"Playoff Perspective" provides a look at the Rockets' possible playoff opponents from the opposing blogger's point of view. Each team, from Dallas to LA (as the chances of us playing Phoenix aren't very probable), will be represented. On today's edition, our fellow SBN bloggers at At The Hive give us insight on a Rockets-Hornets first round match up.
What advantages do you think the Hornets would have over the Rockets in a playoff series?
With Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic both out, the Hornets really don't have many significant advantages. Houston is below average at turnovers and offensive rebounding, and the Hornets force turnovers and defensive rebound well, so that would be a plus. Chris Paul is still Chris Paul, but he loses some of his edge, due to the quickness of Aaron Brooks. I'd also say that the Hornets have a slight advantage in terms of athleticism. Julian Wright has re-emerged into a crucial role as of late. Based on that fact, it would be very beneficial for the Hornets to run at every chance. New Orleans typically plays a slower brand of basketball than Houston, but with Paul, Wright, and Rasual Butler running the floor, they are highly proficient at running the break. If the turnover battle I mentioned above turns in favor of New Orleans, the fast break would obviously become a more common occurrence.
The big disadvantage would be health. Right now, Chandler is in a walking boot, Peja is experiencing "shooting pain from his back to his legs," James Posey has some sort of mysterious elbow injury, and David West's ankle is sprained all kinds of bad. Sure, T-Mac is out for the Rockets, but his offensive production plumetted this year anyway, and there have always been questions about his defense. As a result of those injuries, the Hornets' interior defense is nonexistent. If a guard gets into the paint, he's getting a layup. Now if Yao Ming gets in the lane... On top of that, the Hornets' shooting percentages have sunken into mediocrity this year. Considering that Houston doesn't foul (2nd best foul rate in the West), forces more misses from the floor than any team in the conference (1st best eFG defense in the West), and doesn't allow offensive rebounds (2nd best defensive rebounding in the West), things could get ugly for the Hornets real fast.
Would home court advantage affect your chances greatly, marginally, or not at all?
Compared to some other teams, I don't think it would matter too much. I mean, HCA is always a big factor; to ignore its effects completely is silly. That's not a knock either on New Orleans Arena, which has transformed into one of the louder venues in the League the last couple years. It's just the Hornets have the third best road record in the Conference right now, and they've shown the ability to perform in tough locations. HCA would be far more advantageous to a team like Portland (which, if I'm remembering correctly, has just one road win against West Top 7) or to a team like Utah (since they can't conduct regular muggings).
Compared to the other possible match ups, how confident would you be in your team if they faced the Rockets in the first round?
Minus a healthy Chandler and Peja, I'm not feeling too confident about any matchup, let alone the Rockets. Chandler was not only the centerpiece of the NBA's 7th best defense last year, but also the primary screen setter for Chris Paul. If- and it's a big if- those guys return healthy, I think the team will surprise some people. The bench has really picked up its play with a few bench players serving as spot starters. If someone can get hot to accompany Chris Paul, who knows?
Want to know more about the Hornets? Check out At The Hive.