The end of the Mavericks vs Spurs game on Thursday showed me something I’ve known for a while: Avery Johnson is a defensive minded coach whose decisions on the offensive end have become stale. Every since the Finals of 2006 I’ve noticed it. There are a lot of times that the offense breaks down, people are standing around, and nothing really happens unless a shooter makes his shot.
That was supposed to change.
The blockbuster, epic saga that was the Jason Kidd, Devin Harris trade was supposed to bring a spark back to this team. He was brought to Dallas to make it easier for Dirk, Josh, and JET to get the ball and make shots. He was brought here because he knows how close out games and win in the fourth quarter. Avery himself said this about Kidd at the post-trade press conference, “He’s going to help us just because at the end of the games, he knows how to win. … He knows how to finish games. That’s what we need.”
Kidd said similar things about himself. “The big thing is just to understand how to win a game with six minutes left in the fourth quarter and not shying away from that time. Wanting the ball, make or miss, being involved in the play so you can help your team win.”
In the first real test of Kidd and the Mavs, you would expect him to have the opportunity to prove his worth, wouldn’t you? He didn’t. In the closing possession of the game, Avery chose to put Kidd on the bench. Take a look at what happened:
(if you can’t see the video click here)
The biggest problem I have with Kidd being on the bench is that Avery’s logic makes no sense. Jason Kidd is one of the best passers in the history of the NBA. He creates plays for his teammates. His first thought is to pass the ball, which makes it easier for everyone around him to score. I’ve seen the difference it has made in the rest of the team in his first three games with the team. Why wouldn’t you want him on the floor?
Avery answered this question after the game. “Well, we were looking at spreading the floor with all of our shooters in the game. We wanted to put Stack, Josh and Jet, and that gave Dirk some more room to operate in those situations.”I’m sorry Avery. The days of Dirk creating his own shot are over. Jason Kidd will create shot opportunities for Dirk if you let him. If you want to create “more room” for Dirk “to operate” than Devin Harris should still be the Mavericks point guard. Charles Barkley echoed this after the game. “That was a bad decision, because there’s no sense in making Jason Kidd trade if you’re not going to play him in crunch time. You had Jason Terry; you had Devin Harris.”
Bottom-line. Avery needs to change his coaching strategy on offense. If not, either he or Kidd don’t need to be here.