Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra heaped high praise on Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd before Tuesday’sKidd game between the two clubs.

In referencing Kidd’s 19-year NBA career as a player, Spoelstra said: “He’s one of the historic brilliant minds of this association, and he can fully dominate a game with his mind. Even as he got into his mid-30’s, he could manipulate, manage a game (and) keep everybody happy.

“He understood playbooks, he understood his own team’s strength, he understood other team’s strengths, and he would be able to disrupt whatever ATO (after timeout plays), or whatever action you’re trying to get the ball somewhere defensively.

“He just had a knack for blowing up everything that you’re trying to do. I don’t even know if you can teach that kind of level of IQ. You’re talking about a Hall of Fame IQ and quite naturally that would translate to coaching, and I think that’s what you’re seeing.”

Spoelstra, in essence, describes Kidd as a basketball savant.

Kidd“His teams play smart, this team does not turn the ball over,” Spoelstra said. “They are very coherent offensively, and I think probably one of the most underrated things about their team this year is they have a great defense.

“Maybe in years past they haven’t really dominated games on that end. This year they’ve actually been able to dominate games defensively, and then they have a great closer to finish teams off (in Luka Doncic).”

Kidd, whose team defeated Miami, 107-99, appreciates the respect shown by Spoelstra. He also said the Mavs’ strong defensive showing is a byproduct of what he learned the past two seasons as an assistant under Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

“I think the last two years being with Frank in LA has helped a lot,” Kidd said. “Just understanding what it means, how to teach defense, what it means to be consistent (and) to communicate.

“I think the biggest thing is to communicate to the guys and put them in a position to be successful.”

One player Kidd recognized right away that he figured needed to have a larger role in the Mavs’ rotation so that player and the team could be successful was guard Jalen Brunson. Mainly coming off the bench during his first three seasons with the Mavs, Brunson eventually worked his way into the starting lineup permanently on Dec. 12 and has started 29 games.

“I felt that if we put (Brunson) next to Luka that he could help not just Luka, but himself and the team,” Kidd said. “Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong.

“But I’m just trying to put these guys in a position to help us win, to get them paid, and then have fun doing it. I don’t know if it’s in that order, but all of them are probably 1A, 1B and 1C.”Kidd

Playing defense, indeed, is an intangible the Mavs have been having fun doing this season. Since Dec. 31, the Mavs own the second-best defensive rating in the NBA at 103.8 points while posting a 17-6 record. They trail only the Boston Celtics, who has the best defensive rating since Dec. 31 at 101.1 points allowed while also posting a 17-6 record.

“When you talked about the Mavs in the past, they’ve been one of the top teams offensively, so we spent a lot of time with the language of playing defense (and) helping each other,” said Kidd, who is in his first season as the Mavs’ coach. “And one of the guys who has caught on to it extremely well is Luka. Luka has been great for us in the schemes, and then we’ve also talked about just being able to rebound the ball.”

The ability to rebound has always been a high priority for Kidd, who has stressed its importance throughout the season.

“When you don’t give your opponent second or third opportunities, that’s when your defense can go to a higher level, and that’s what we’ve done of late.,” he said. “And now our offense has kind of caught up with our defense.

“So now we’re just trying to figure out if we can do both.”

LukaSPOELSTRA CUTS OFF REPORTER: In an unusual set of circumstances, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra cut off a reporter who was trying to point out his team’s success against Mavs point guard Luka Doncic before Tuesday’s game.

Spoelstra even reference the 51 and 45 points Doncic scored last Thursday and Saturday, respectively, against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Reporter: “Coach, we’ve seen some data today that over the years the Miami Heat teams that you’ve coached have done the best job defensively overall against Luka. Is there anything. . .”

Spoelstra: “Don’t say that. No. I mean, come on. It’s impossible. I thought the Clippers played him great. Really, you watch that game and it’s like, first of all, the Clippers are a really good defensive team and I thought they mixed up their schemes.

“They had guys that physically can handle different matchups, and then he just torched them. It was really impressive. He’s in a great groove right now.”

Fresh after being named the Western Conference Player of the Week for his performances last week, Doncic finished Tuesday’s game with 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Briefly: Reggie Bullock (left hip contusion), Trey Burke (left shoulder sprain), Marquese Chriss (right knee soreness), Tim Hardaway Jr. (left foot surgery) and Theo Pinson (right fifth finger fracture) all sat out Tuesday’s game in Miami. Coach Jason KiddSpencer said Bullock, Burke and Chriss are all day-to-day. . .Kidd summed up the trials and tribulations of the Mavs’ two new players – Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie – who were acquired in a trade last Thursday that sent Kristaps Porzingis and a protected 2022 second-round pick to the Washington Wizards. “The hardest part is the luggage that they have to bring,” Kidd said. “All the bags and stuff that they have to carry around here for the next couple of days until the (All-Star) break until they can get settled in (makes it difficult).”. .The Mavs’ recent season-high six-game home stand started with a surprising 120-114 loss in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 2, and ended with a 99-97 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers this past Saturday. In between, the Mavs won four games. “We won four out of six,” Kidd said. “The home stand didn’t start well and you can say it didn’t end well. But in between there was a lot of good basketball. We protected home, so if you ever have a home stand like that and you can go four and two, I think we would all sign up for that.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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