On July 15, 2021 — Jason Kidd was introduced as the new head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. There was definitely one main coaching point that Coach Kidd wanted to get across to his new team and the media in his introductory press conference: defense. Kidd promised that “you’ll see us out here playing hard but you're going to see us play defense and we’re going to trust one another.”
“It’s a team concept… from day 1 that’s what we’ll preach and you’ll see us out here playing hard but you’re going to see us play defense and we’re going to trust one another.”— House Mavericks (@HouseMavericks) May 16, 2022
Coach Jason Kidd on July 15, 2021 in his introductory press conference #MFFL pic.twitter.com/SK2TOffOuY
That was quite the statement — some of you reading this right now may even remember scoffing at it... I know I did. There was no way the Mavericks who just finished the 2020-2021 season as the 21st ranked — 9th worst in the NBA —defensive rated team would just all of the sudden start playing it, right? Wrong.
In the 2021-2022 regular season, Dallas greatly improved on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 7th in the NBA with a defensive rating of 109.1. Reggie Bullock has proved himself to be a huge offseason addition. The Kristaps Porzingis trade lifted the lid on what kind of success the team could achieve. Now here we are, the Mavericks advancing to the Western Conference Finals after beating the best team in the NBA, the 64-win Phoenix Suns, in 7 games.
There was this awesome moment in last night’s game where an “Audio Assist” caught a high intensity defensive coaching effort from Coach Kidd on the sideline... you can watch it here:
You have to love J.Kidd's intensity!— NBA (@NBA) May 16, 2022
Jason Kidd is wired for sound in Game 7. pic.twitter.com/b1C4M1AfpQ
“NOW! CMON! STAY HOME DOE! FIRE! BASELINE! TRAP TRAP TRAP TRAP TRAP TRAP!”
This defensive possession happened with about 25 seconds left in the first quarter when the Mavericks were up 27-15. Although this possession frustratingly ended with an offensive rebound and a put-back layup by Cam Johnson to trim Dallas’ early lead to 10, this is the contagious effort and energy you want from your coach and your bench when playing in the playoffs.
When I first watched this “mic’d up” moment on twitter I easily watched it over 10 times in a row. This is the behind the scenes audio every basketball fan — who doesn't want to pay thousands of dollars for close seats — wants access to! This clip perfectly gave us a glimpse into and validated the team defense concept that was promised by Kidd in July 2021.
I don't have all the right words to explain how insane it is to see this Dallas Mavericks defense perform the way they did in this series versus the Suns. Coach Jason Kidd and his staff deserve all the credit in changing the defensive culture in year one — and the players have bought in and executed. Now they get to reap the benefits and move on to the next round! A new defensive challenge awaits, guarding Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors for a chance to represent the Western Conference in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.