It’s safe to say the Dallas Mavericks have have been balling these first three games of the 2022 NBA playoffs. Over the past six days they’ve done the impossible and taken a 2-1 lead on the Utah Jazz all without their star player, Luka Doncic, on the court.
So what is the secret for their recent success?
Sugar, spice and a little Kidd magic. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that many players have stepped up this series including: Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber and even second year player Josh Green.
The mentality Jason Kidd has brought to the Dallas Mavericks is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Across the board Jason Kidd has made his presence felt. From the Mavs defensive presence, big play from role players, all the way to elevated starter production, Jason Kidd has this Mavs machine running.
Let us start off by breaking down the Mavs defensive. In Game Two’s win, the Dallas Mavericks increased their defensive pressure on Utah. Overall, the team had five steals compared to the Jazz’s two. They also forced their opponent to shoot only 37 percent of their three point attempts.
Even in their Game One loss, Dallas had eight steals and finished with four blocks. While they did lose, their progress as a whole is something that has drastically improved. Against the Los Angeles Clippers last postseason, the Mavs consistently lost the steal battle.
Another key change Coach Kidd has brought to Dallas this postseason is the elevated play of various role players. Last year, the Mavs usually struggled to find help from the bench. For the most part it was Doncic, Tim Hardaway, and/or Kristaps Porzingis leading the way. Fast forward to 2022 and not one all three of the those previously mentioned players have even stepped onto the hardwood. (Of course Porzingis has been traded, but you get the point.)
The play from the bench is something that has set the tone for the team this postseason. In Game Two against the Jazz, the Mavericks bench combined for 30 points. Kleber led the way with 25 points hitting eight of his 11 threes and contributing with six key rebounds.
It’s because of Kidd’s trust and support in these players that the team has stepped when called upon. For example, one key highlight was the level of play from the second year man Josh Green. He finished Game Three with 12 points and led the team in assists. Josh Green!
So far in the playoffs Green is averaging around 16 minutes a game. Contrast that to last season where he was lucky to just check in for a minute or two. If you remember, last season he averaged a mere four minutes of playing time.
Green is not the only player Kidd has shown a high level of trust in. Jalen Brunson has also seen his minutes increased under the new coach. Last season the former Villanova star played just 25 minutes. In the playoffs last year he averaged around 16 minutes per contest. Under Kidd, he has played roughly 41 minutes and has been the biggest difference maker in the series.
With his minutes increasing, he has shown has flashes of his old college days. In Game One of the series he had 24 points and contributed with 7 rebounds. In Game Two he played lights out and had a career high 41 points. He shot 60 percent from three and hit more than 50 percent of his field goal attempts. Last night he continued that hot streak and put the Mavs on his back when they needed him most.
Another starter who has seen his production increase this season/postseason is forward Dorian Finney-Smith. The Mavs wingman has become Kidd’s most reliable defender and has shown tremendous progress on the offensive end.
You can definitely say the change scenery is something that Dallas has benefited from. Now if only Kidd can finally get the team over their playoff woes.