Thursday, April 17, 2008

Feeling no pressure

Upbeat and embracing the underdog role, the Mavericks gathered for their last organized meeting in Dallas before beginning their 2008 playoff journey. Thursday’s film session and walkthrough at American Airlines Center served as the first step in preparing for New Orleans.

The bracket says the Mavs aren’t the favorite. The second-seeded Hornets won the Southwest Division and five more regular-season games. The best-of-7 first round series opens with two games in New Orleans, beginning Saturday. (The Mavs will return home after Game 1 with the second game not until Tuesday night.)

It’s a different hat to wear, as Avery Johnson said. Despite an overwhelming advantage in playoff experience – it’s the first postseason for this version of the Hornets – the Mavs are taking the approach that not much is expected of them. They’re not the team that went to the NBA Finals or won 67 games.

Chris Paul and the Hornets can wear the hat of expectations.

“It’s a little different,” Dirk Nowitzki admitted. “The whole year was a little different for us than obviously last year. Lot of ups and downs and then we made a big trade and lost a lot of close games afterwards. It was a definitely a different feeling entering the postseason, but the last two weeks we won some big games and gained some confidence

“Hopefully, it will be a great playoff run. We’ll see what happens here in the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely different. Last year the pressure was on us, and this year we can kind of go out and play and have fun.”

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