Jason Kidd the reason Mavericks have chance to upset Phoenix


Dallas Mavericks first year head coach Jason Kidd has had a brilliant playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. The teams play Game 7 of their second round NBA playoff series on Sunday night in Phoenix.


The Dallas Mavericks should have cleaned out their lockers, conducted their season-ending interviews, and be halfway to a tropical beach by now.

The Dallas Mavericks are in a Game 7 because the Phoenix Suns’ head coach is getting his fanny kicked by the other guy.

The guy all of us were not too sure was the right guy to replace Rick Carlisle.

Whatever Jason Kidd did not do well in his previous stops in Brooklyn and Milwaukee he is doing now.

The NBA’s best team in the regular season is begging to blow their chance at a second straight trip to the NBA Finals because of Kidd, Luka Doncic and the Mavericks.

This Suns should have won this series 4-1, or 4-2.

Instead, the Suns will host the Mavs in Game 7 on Sunday night in Phoenix.

It’s the second straight year the Mavs will play a Game 7 on the road. Didn’t go so well last year. The Mavs lost Game 7 in their first-round series with the L.A. Clippers.

The Suns are 6.5 point favorites in Game 7 for a reason.

They’re the better team.

The Suns won 64 games in the regular-season, tops in the NBA.

With Chris Paul, DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker, the Suns have a better team than the Mavs.

The Suns have also won their three games at home in this series by an average of 15.6 points. (The Mavs have won their three games at home by an average of 15.3 points.)

The Suns should win on Sunday night.

Do not be surprised if they don’t.

This is the NBA, where weird is routine in a Game 7.

The Mavs have reached this Game 7 against a superior opponent because Kidd is having a much better series than Suns coach Monty Williams.

After losing Games 1 and 2 in Phoenix, the Mavericks have won three of the last four; all of their wins came at the American Airlines Center.

“It must be in the air,” Mavs forward Reggie Bullock said after the game.

And on the bench.

This series has been entirely Kidd switching up matchups, and having the courage to challenge one of the best players in the world to get his stuff together and play better.

A head coach publicly challenging his own star player requires real courage; Kidd’s predecessor, Carlisle, did it almost as much as he smiled.

In Games 1 and 2, the Suns “hunted” Mavs forward Doncic on nearly every offensive possession; the Suns, and specifically Paul, exploited that matchup to humiliating lengths.

Paul scored 47 points with 11 assists in the first two games.

After Game 2, Kidd politely called out Doncic and challenged him to be better defensively.

Doncic will never be confused for Dennis Rodman, but he was no longer an alarming liability on defense.

Since the the start of Game 3, Paul no longer looks like one of the best point guards ever but rather a 37-year-old guy hanging on. He has scored 37 points combined in the remainder of the series.

The Mavs have made a few other adjustments; Kidd put Bullock on Booker on Thursday, and Booker scored 19 points but needed 17 shots to do it. He also had eight turnovers.

The Mavs have also not allowed the biggest advantage in this series, Suns center Deandre Ayton, to own them.

After Game 1, when Ayton finished with 25 points and 8 rebounds, he looked as if he would be too much for a smaller Mavs team to handle. He should be; the Mavericks have no one who can deal with him inside.

He has been good in a series where, matchup-wise, he should be great.

Hell, Kidd got some quality minutes in this series out of Frank Ntilikina.

Doncic has played a brilliant offensive series, and he will need to be nearly flawless on Sunday in Phoenix.

We have the celebrated Game 7 when, matchup-wise, this series should already be over.

It’s not over because Jason Kidd is having a much better series than Monty Williams.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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