When I was in the locker room after the season-ending victory over the Hornets, one of the reporters asked Jerry Stackhouse about playoff experience. He stated that one of the biggest advantages of being a veteran is that you know not to get too high from a big win or a too down from big loss.
He pointed to his own experiences in his first playoff series against Atlanta, where Atlanta went out to a 2-0 lead in the best of five series with a banged up young team, and then immediately rode that amazing momentum to... two straight losses. Stackhouse didn't mention it but it is worth nothing that one of the turning points in that series was certainly the veteran presence of Atlanta's Dikembe Mutombo, who after losing twice (including a blowout loss in game four) confidently stated that Atlanta was going to win game five. I dare say that Mutombo is the kind of veteran that is important to have: Two straight big losses, and he's smiling and talking about the next round before the deciding game.
The upstart is that a young Jerry Stackhouse was part of the losing team in that series, while Mutombo moved on to the next round. I rather think that this is what Stack was talking about in the locker room the other night.
The truth is that you never know what is going to happen, and feeling too good about a big win can lead to catastrophic losses. That's a very important lesson, and, you know, there's a team that learned that lesson first hand. Yes--the one that had a 2-0 lead over the Heat in the NBA finals. It remains to be seen if the Hornets are going to learn that lesson at the hands of the Mavs.