June 14, 2024

Effort of the Dallas Mavericks defense is so bad it makes Jason Kidd’s exit plausible

The NBA is currently in a steroid-level era of scoring, but the Dallas Mavericks level of effort on defense is so non-existent it’s as if these players want their coach fired. Have some pride. If you’re not going to play for the name on the front of the jersey, which in this day and age no one is stupid enough to such a thing, then have some respect for the name on the back.

This doesn’t just apply to Hardaway Jr., Green, Irving, or Lively. This goes for the guy named Doncic. On Tuesday night, the Dallas Mavericks played their former coach, Rick Carlisle, whose Indiana Pacers put it on the Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s newest acquisition, 137-120.

It’s the Mavs fifth loss in their last six games, two of which came against Indiana. In the first year of post Rick, Jason Kidd led the Mavericks to its first 50-win season in seven years, and the Western Conference finals. In his third season, however, his tenure is beginning to have the disturbing look of what can happen to a team when the Hard Guy Coach leaves town.

NBA Free-Agency Rumors: Jason Kidd Ready to Sign Deal with Dallas Mavericks  | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

 

Despite making quality upgrades at multiple positions before the NBA’s trade deadline, the Mavs are now the NBA’s most bewildering team. They are good enough to reach the conference finals. They are erratic enough to lose in the play-in round.

Somehow their defense remains one of the worst in the league. “We got the personnel. We’ve got the team,” Kidd said after the loss. “Everyone is trying to do the right thing. … We show signs of it; we’re not being consistent.”

Even in the best of health, everything from the fifth seed to the play-in is equally plausible. Because this team so frequently acts as if it has no clue how to try on defense.

The Mavs are 5-5 since they acquired P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford. Make it make sense, Mark Cuban. Or Nico Harrison. Or Miriam Adelson. Or Patrick Dumont.

“It’s impossible to win games giving up 30 points every quarter,” Washington said after the Mavs’ loss to Indiana. “Defense is effort. We have to be better.”

Jason Kidd's value to the 2011 Mavs: He was plus-43 in Games 4-5-6 - Sports  Illustrated Cal Bears News, Analysis and More

 

If defense is effort (it is), and the Mavs agree they have to play better defense, then … maybe, try harder?

With this roster, and specifically a healthy Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, this team should be good. Not the Boston Celtics or Denver Nuggets good, but better than flirting with the ninth spot in the West.

The Mavericks are wasting a historic offensive season from Doncic who is assembling a collection of numbers that a video game company would reject. The man spits out triple-doubles the way his team gives up layups.

Against the Pacers, he recorded his fourth straight game with a triple double. He joins Oscar Robertson as the only player in NBA history to achieve this feat.

That’s actually a lie; Russell Westbrook is the other player to do it, but mentioning that somehow lessens the achievement; because every time Westbrook put him numbers, his team lost. “It doesn’t matter,” Doncic said after the game at his locker. “I just want to win.” Good answer.

Carlisle was always the better head coach than Kidd, but his time with the franchise had come to an end. Carlisle knew it, too. Luka was tired of him, and the Mavericks are his team. Kidd’s personality, and demeanor, are a better fit with Luka than Carlisle.

But Kidd the coach is inferior to Carlisle the coach. That much has been played out in these last two games between the Pacers and Mavericks.

It’s hard to envision a Carlisle team not playing defense the way this crew so often has in this past season and a half under Kidd. Some of this can be blamed on personnel, but the head coach has to wear some of this, too. Matchups. In game adjustments. Rotations. Something is just off here.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day; 2011 wasn’t built in a day,” Kidd said of the Mavericks’ NBA title team. Since Kidd is going with that analogy, the Mavs are seven years away from winning their second NBA championship.

Dirk Nowitzki was in his 13th season when they won that title, and Luka is in year No. 6. Twenty games remain on the Mavericks schedule, and they’re making the playoffs, in some form. The Mavs aren’t falling to the 11th spot in the West, so we will see postseason basketball in the spring. Don’t bet on the results.

“We have a target on our backs,” Daniel Gafford said after the game. “We’re one of the best teams in the league.” Uhhh … who wants to tell him?

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