Jason Kidd would never claim that his Mavericks are a well-oiled machine. Not publicly, anyway.
But after 80 games, they have become a better machine. It’s been clear in the way that the offense has gotten more consistent, which in turn has helped the defense grow some teeth along the way.
Kidd was asked about the success of the Mavericks after their 50th win of the season, a 131-113 victory at Detroit on Wednesday in the last road game of the regular season.
He said Luka Dončić has been the catalyst, but not so much because of his scoring. It’s the way he’s thinking his way through the game these days, setting up his teammates with his assorted passes that are becoming routine on a team that still has to focus on making sure the recipients of those passes are stationed in the right spots.
In particular against the Pistons, he flipped an over-the-head pass to Dorian Finney-Smith in the corner for a wide-open 3-pointer.
“He has a knack to go to the basket and that the last, last, last second deliver a pass,” Kidd said.
It isn’t always behind the back or over his head, but it usually is on the money, no matter what kind of pass it is.
“It takes a partnership and whoever’s in that corner can’t leave,” Kidd said of Luka’s favorite passing destination. “And sometimes you will leave because you believe he’s going to shoot it. That just shows the growth and trust between Luka and his teammates that he knows someone is going to be in that corner.”
Usually, it’s Dorian Finney-Smith or Reggie Bullock. Or both, with one in each corner. But no matter who is over there, that’s the sweet spot for the Mavericks’ offense.
Opponents collapse on Dončić and he finds the shooters. They stay home, and a layup or a pass to the big man who set the screen in the pick-and-roll is a sure-fire dunk or foul on the defense if they try to recover.
When it’s done right, it’s a thing of beauty. And it doesn’t hurt when you have a 6-7 point guard with remarkable court vision doing the passing.
Especially when he trusts his teammates to be in the right spot at the right time.
Takeaways from the blowout win at Detroit:
ROAD WARRIORS: The Mavericks finished the regular season 23-18 on the road, which is as many as they’ve had on the road in any season since the championship in 2011, when they were 28-13.
HOME HOARDERS? While their work away from American Airlines Center has been exemplary, they now need one more win on the home floor (or one Utah loss) to clinch at least the fourth seed and a home court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs. They still could rise to No. 3 in the Western Conference. They’re a half-game behind Golden State going into Thursday’s action, but own the tiebreaker.
REGARDLESS: Whether they finish third or fourth, they likely are headed toward a first-round matchup against either Utah or Denver. They’ve had good success against both teams this season, going 2-1 against the Nuggets and 2-2 against the Jazz. There’s still a remote chance they could play Minnesota in the first round, but the odds are stacked heavily against that scenario.
THREE-HEADED MONSTER: The Mavericks got 63 points from Luka (26), Jalen Brunson (24) and Spencer Dinwiddie (13). It’s becoming clear that they are going to lean on their three play-making guards for the bulk of their offense, either as scorers or facilitators. They combined for 20 of the Mavericks’ 28 assists. Dončić had 14 of them. In a perfect world, Kidd will try to keep at least two of the three guards on the floor at all times. And don’t be surprised if they’re all out there at times.
Share and comment