Game 2 = Time for adjustment

April, 21, 2008

NEW ORLEANS -- And now, the fun part begins.

Game 1 is nice, but that's the set piece in a playoff series. Teams generally play their normal rotation and see what works and what doesn't.

Game 2, then, is when the chess match begins. Playoff series are all about adjustments, and starting tonight teams will begin adjusting away.

For instance, take the New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks, who meet again Tuesday. Based on what Avery Johnson said after Game 1, Dallas seems focused on attacking Chris Paul to make him work harder on defense. Based on what Byron Scott said, he's thinking the Mavs will bring stronger traps against Paul the way they did in the second half of Wednesday's regular-season finale.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

While the Mavs headed back to Dallas for two days to lick their wounds and prepare for Tuesday's Game 2, the Hornets worked out in the suburban rec center that doubles as their practice facility and talked about what to expect next.

And inevitably, that thought led to the next one -- adjusting to Dallas' adjustments. Let the chess match begin.

So just how much should coaches worry about what the other team might do differently, anyway?

"About 40 percent," said Hornets coach Byron Scott. "I worry [more] about us still doing some of the things that we talk about doing a little better. And I know it will be a chess match, I know he'll make some adjustments. So right now it's like I moved my pawn and he's going to make his move and we'll see what happens."

(Side note: It's a little too much like that, actually. From sticking Jannero Pargo on Jason Terry to changing his coverage on Dirk Nowitzki from Wednesday's approach to the mysterious absence of hard traps in the backcourt on Paul, it seemed Scott was playing solitaire chess in Game 1.)

Forward Peja Stojakovic, who has been through a lot more playoff wars than his teammates, knows the Mavs will be throwing different looks at his team. But he's not worried about the Hornets' relative playoff inexperience.

"They're young, but they're pretty mature and pretty responsible," said Stojakovic of his mates. "They're gonna be there, and they understand the importance of the second game."

And it's not like Dallas will be the only one making adjustments.

"We'll change strategy too," said Paul. "We need to get better in transition defense. [But] we'll come out in the first quarter, see what they change and then make adjustments."

So get ready for things to get different. By the time the last Game 2 ends on Wednesday night, these eight first-round series might look a lot different than they do right now.



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