The Dallas Mavericks are getting ready for a very different challenge in the second round of the NBA Playoffs after dispatching of the Utah Jazz in six games. The top-seeded Phoenix Suns bring a much different level of floor balance on the offensive end than the Jazz have, and for a Mavs team light on big men, that figures to be a challenge.
Jason Kidd was asked about just that prior to Game 1 and how the Mavs will have to adjust to a Suns team that looks to score in very different ways from the Jazz, and the Mavs’ head coach gave a good answer about their three-level scoring while also accidentally burying the Jazz’s bigs while heaping praise on Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee.
“Our game plan against Utah is not going to work against the Suns so we’ve already changed that mindset because we’re not playing the Jazz. We understand their strength is the midrange, but they can hurt you with the three and they can hurt you in the paint with JaVale and Ayton. So, this isn’t Gobert or Whiteside. These guys can put the ball in the basket. So, our bigs are going to be tested.”
He’s definitely not wrong, it’s just a little inadvertent twist of the knife to the Jazz as they go into a summer with more questions than answers. It is a bit funny that he led with JaVale in this instance considering his threat is almost entirely as a lob finisher and putback guy, while Ayton is certainly the more dynamic post scorer and shooter.
Kidd is right that how the Mavs bigs, which are the biggest question they have as a team, handle the pressure that Ayton in particular can put on them will be critical for them to have a chance in this series. For the Suns, their patience and willingness to go inside and attack those matchups throughout the game — something they at times would forget to do against the Pelicans when they went small — is going to dictate just how much the Mavs are punished for not having someone that physically matches up with Ayton on that end. Part of the reason the Mavs had so much success going small in the first round was that, whether through not wanting to or not be able to, the Jazz could not punish mismatches inside with Gobert or Whiteside and it’s clear Kidd knew that and took advantage of it.