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Avery's Right Call

You know, I sat there and almost fell out of my chair when Kidd wasn't on the floor at the end of last night's Mavs-Spurs game. I even wrote in the game thread that I thought the decision was "bizarre." But I will say this in hindsight: Avery's strategy clearly worked.

As Mike Fisher outlines in some detail at, the Mavericks got three good shots in that final half minute. If you were to stop time and say--without looking at anyone on the floor--"Thanks to Avery's strategy, the Mavericks will get three good shots during this final half minute--two by Dirk and one by Jet--while San Antonio doesn't score" wouldn't you say "Wow, that's a great result. Three good looks by our best two crunch time shooters is probably about as good as we can get. I sure hope we would make a shot or two!"

I think practically everyone would say that.

So why should our opinion change when you list who was or wasn't on the floor? Isn't basketball about results, and since a coach isn't physically able to take shots, the best result for him is to put our shooters in the best position to make a shot, and Avery's strategy did it three times last night when it really mattered.

This really appears to me a situation where people are saying, "Well, the strategy worked, but I don't like it anyway."

There is only two situations where last night's effective results should be considered false thinking: 1) If it was pure dumb luck that got those shots. We know that, in this instance, luck wasn't the case (again, Fisher outlines the design leading to the favorable isolations well on his site). 2) Some other strategy would have been more effective. This is arguable. Perhaps Kidd would have been able to get Dampier to dunk on Duncan. Maybe he would have been able to get Dirk a better look than Dirk shooting over Parker. But I don't think we can with any degree of confidence say that Kidd's presence would have generated three even better shots.

Of course the question then becomes, "Then why trade for Kidd at all?" The answer is quite simple: This offense needs Kidd against other teams, not necessarily the Spurs.

Time has proven that the Mavericks match up well with San Antonio. The same five that were on the floor for the last 35 seconds last night were the primary five that took the Mavericks past the Spurs to the finals. Frankly, this team really didn't need Kidd to get past the Spurs. We need Kidd to get past other teams and to do what he often did last night: Change our offensive look to make it harder on teams to defend against us.

Again, I like the Kidd trade for what it brings to our defense and the flexibility it brings to our offense, but we just can't get lost in the glow of Kidd's arrival and ignore the reality that our isolation offense can be devastatingly effective against teams. One of those teams happens to be the Spurs, and you know that's the case when Dirk gets two straight mid-range jumpers while being defended by Tony Parker and Terry gets a straight run to the hoop with only Bruce Bowen between him and a score--and this all happens in the final 30 seconds of the game.

Let's face it, in this instance Avery is getting blamed for Dirk missing shots he is supposed to make.