Sunday , Apr , 19 , 2009 Oly Sandor

How Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, and Utah Jazz succeeds in playoffs

I, for one, don’t know if I can handle the wait. I’m restless like my guy Bubbles from The Wire, trying to handle the comedown from a weekend of NBA highs. For all the hoop junkies, here is a little something to tie you over until Monday afternoon -the last of our quick-hit (pun intended) keys to playoff success. Today, we are looking at the bottom four seeds in the Western Conference …


How Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, and Utah Jazz succeeds in playoffsAll the game ones are in the books.

Like a good hoop junkie, I enjoyed my first fix of the 2008-09 post-season. The next hit isn’t until Monday night when Boston and San Antonio try to even things up against Chicago and Dallas.

I, for one, don’t know if I can handle the wait. I’m restless like my guy Bubbles from The Wire, trying to handle the comedown from a weekend of NBA highs.

For all the hoop junkies, here is a little something to tie you over until Monday afternoon –the last of our quick-hit (pun intended) keys to playoff success. Today, we are looking at the bottom four seeds in the Western Conference.

As always read the post, form an opinion, and let me know if I’ve got it wrong in the comment box below.

5) Houston … 

Realistic Goal: Win a round or two. Establish their post-T-Mac identity.

Keys: It’s about now. Nothing else. Houston must forget past defeats, focus on today, and embrace their new blue-collar style.

I know. Forget. Focus. Embrace. Forgive me for getting all Anthony Robbins here, but Rick Adelman’s team may need a little Personal Power with all the heartbreak they’ve faced over the years. Then again, maybe not.

After watching game one against Portland, Adelman’s bunch can perhaps pass on the Personal Power. Yao Ming had a solid 24 points and 9 rebounds in the series debut. The giant five-man must continue to lead, which means consistently scoring on the low-block and plugging the middle on defense.

Without T-Mac, Ron Artest is unquestionably the Rockets’ second star, while Shane Battier, Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola and their stacked bench have to keep setting the tone physically and chip-in with timely scoring. 

6) Dallas … 

Realistic Goal: Upset San Antonio. Become the Cinderella story of the 2008-09 playoffs.

Keys: San Antonio, when clicking, is still an excellent team. But Dallas, with their deep bench, gritty defense, and playoff experience, is a tough match-up.

Yesterday, Jose Barea, Brandon Bass, and Jason Terry combined for 39 points to give the Mavericks a clear edge in reserve scoring. Expect this trend to continue with the Spurs’ second-unit, game-changer Manu Gino injured.

Of course, Rick Carlisle’s teams can always get-stops and most of the players were around for Dallas’ past playoff runs. So, yeah, this savvy crew is dangerous. 

7) New Orleans …

Realistic Goal: Build on a successful 2007-08. 

Keys: After last year’s successful run, the Hornets appeared to take a step back in 2008-09. There were plenty of distractions: Chris Paul appeared tired after a busy summer with Team USA, their supporting stars were injured, and then there was the rescinded trade of Tyson Chandler.

They can still go deep, though. But Peja Stojakovic must turn back the clock and find his old Sacramento form, while Chandler has to perform after a difficult season. Of course, New Orleans goes as far as Paul carries them. 

8) Utah … 

Realistic Goal: Win a game or two. 

Keys: The Jazz is overmatched against the first-seeded Lakers. However, Kobe and company is the least of their worries.

Utah has battled injuries all season. In game one, they were without five-man Mehmet Okur, who would have battled Pau Gasol and Pau Gasol. The Turkish post could soon be gone for good. Okur, Carlos Boozer, and Kyle Korver each have player’s options for next season. This uncertainty may have finally taken a toll on pretty decent team.

What do you see as the keys to Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, and Utah having a successful season? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA Tidbits. Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.