Link maker

The Dallas Mavericks playoff magician and the missing link

It’s safe to say that the Dallas Mavericks have played those first three games of the 2022 NBA playoffs. Over the past six days, they’ve done the impossible and taken a 2-1 lead over the Utah Jazz, all without their star player, Luka Doncic, on the pitch.

So what’s the secret to their recent success?

Sugar, spices and a little Kidd magic. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that many players have stepped up this streak, including: Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber and even sophomore Josh Green.

The mentality that Jason Kidd brought to the Dallas Mavericks is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

At every level, Jason Kidd has made his presence felt. From the defensive presence of the Mavs, to the big play of the role players, to the high starter production, Jason Kidd has this Mavs machine running.

Let’s start by breaking down the Mavs defense. In the Game 2 win, the Dallas Mavericks increased their defensive pressure on Utah. Overall, the team had five interceptions to the Jazz’s two. They also forced their opponent to shoot just 37% of their three-point attempts.

Even in their Game 1 loss, Dallas had eight interceptions and finished with four blocks. Although they lost, their progress as a whole improved dramatically. Against the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs, the Mavs consistently lost the steal battle.

Another key change Coach Kidd has made to Dallas this postseason is high play from various players. Last year, the Mavs generally struggled to find help off the bench. For the most part, then, it was Doncic, Tim Hardaway and/or Kristaps Porzingis leading the way. Fast forward to 2022 and none of the three previously mentioned players have even stepped on hardwood. (Of course, Porzingis was traded, but you understand.)

Playing off the bench is something that set the tone for the team in the playoffs. In Game 2 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 was because of Kidd’s trust and support for these players that the team stepped in when called upon. For example, one of the highlights was second-year player Josh Green’s level of play. He finished Game 3 with 12 points and led the team in assists. Joe Green!

So far in the playoffs, Green has averaged about 16 minutes per game. Compare that to last season where he had the chance to check in for a minute or two. If you remember, last season he averaged just four minutes.

Green isn’t the only player Kidd has shown a high level of confidence in. Jalen Brunson has also seen his minutes increase under the new coach. Last season, the former Villanova star played just 25 minutes. In the playoffs last year, he averaged 16 minutes per game. Under Kidd, he played around 41 minutes and was the series’ biggest difference maker.

With his minutes increasing, he showed flashes of his old college days. In Game 1 of the series, he had 24 points and contributed 7 rebounds. In Game 2, he played lights and had a career-high 41 points. He shot 60% from three and was successful on more than 50% of his field goal attempts. Last night he continued that hot streak and put the Mavs on his back when they needed him the most.

Another starter who has seen his production increase this season/playoffs is forward Dorian Finney-Smith. The Mavs winger has become Kidd’s most reliable defender and has made tremendous progress on the offensive end.

You can definitely tell that the change of scenery is something Dallas has benefited from. Now, if only Kidd could finally get the team over their playoff woes.