As he was getting peppered with questions after the Mavericks’ 103-95 win over Toronto Saturday night, Jason Kidd had to stop the hoops-challenged media members and remind them of something.
“A famous player said: This isn’t instant oatmeal,” Kidd admonished. “This is going to take some time to cook.”
And remember, this was after a very solid victory that leveled the Mavericks’ record at 1-1.
It’s uncertain who first said the “instant oatmeal” quote. But LeBron James used it in 2018 after he joined the Los Angeles Lakers.
And Kidd couldn’t be more accurate with his example.
The Mavericks are going to have some clunkers along the way. They had one at Atlanta. They’ll have more. But the idea of this thing is to weed those out as the season goes along.
Cut down on the off nights and try to build momentum as the season goes along.
And, as much as every NBA player likes to score, the best team unity comes from the defensive end of the court. The ability to trust – and to help – teammates is built by having a sound defensive system and executing that system.
In the second half against the Raptors, the Mavericks did that.
Kristaps Porzingis was a strong anchor most of the game with four blocked shots. The Mavericks did a good job of gang-rebounding.
“We’re just getting started playing together,” said Porzingis. “Everything’s not going to be perfect now. But the more we play together, it’s only going to get better with time.”
And while minutes played and shot distribution will always be something that players want more of, defensive effort is something they all agree on.
As Porzingis said: “You’re not going to block every shot. But I want to contest shots.”
The Mavericks now are looking at a possibly advantageous part of the schedule. The home opener Tuesday is against Houston. The Rockets are 1-2 after losing to Boston on Sunday night.
However, rookie Jalen Green already has shown himself to be a legit rookie of the year candidate after pouring in 31 points against the Celtics.
But for the Mavericks, it’s clear after two games that it’s more about them than their opponent when they step on the floor. If they play lifeless like they did against Atlanta, the results are not good.
If they come out with energy, they can beat anybody, even after falling behind 16-2 like they did against the Raptors.
There’s no more vivid picture of their key to success than the first two games.
“We just wanted to come out of halftime (in Toronto) and set a tone,” said Tim Hardaway Jr. “We were in this situation before, down at halftime (at Atlanta). We wanted to come out and have a really great third quarter.”
When they did, they were fine.
Now they will be in front of the home crowd for the first time and they can go about the business of establishing a home-court advantage, something that has not always been easy to create in recent years.