Jason Kidd: ‘This Team Isn’t Built to Play Defense’

Luka Doncic

Getty Luka Doncic defends Paul George of the LA Clippers.

The Dallas Mavericks continue to slip in the Western Conference standings. As they continue to face injury issues, the Mavs have lost seven of their last ten games. 

A loss to the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this week officially put the team at .500 with a record of 11-11. 

Following that game, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd talked about the team’s recent struggles. 

“This team is built to play offense,” said Kidd postgame. “This team isn’t built to play defense. We have to get out of that mode”

While this has been the case for Dallas over the past two season, they’ve actually struggled on both ends of the floor this season. Both offensively and on defense, the Mavs have been mediocre. 

Shooting Slump

Offense has been the Mavericks’ specialty the past two seasons, but they’ve struggled during the 2021-22 campaign. 

Dallas’ offensive rating of 107.2 puts them at 21st in the NBA on the season. 

To Luka Doncic, it’s less about whether the offense or defense is the issue for the Mavs, and more about being balanced. 

“We just need to play better,” said the superstar guard earlier this week. “I wouldn’t say offense or defense. I would say we are built to win; sometimes it’s going to be offensively, sometimes it’s going to be defensively.”

Over its past five games, Dallas has gone 1-4. During this stretch the team has actually been in the top half of the league in field goal percentage (46.5%) and 3-point percentage (36.7%). While the offense hasn’t been great more holistically on the season, the defense has been a larger issue of late. 

Defensive Vulnerability 

Over this rough five-game stretch, the Mavs have a defensive rating of 113.1, which is in the bottom third of the league. They’ve allowed 15.6 fast break points per game (27th in NBA), which goes to show that poor offense can often result in defensive struggles. 

Additionally, Dallas has allowed 49.6 points in the paint per contest in the past five despite being one of the biggest teams in the NBA. 

Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber recently gave great insight into the mindset of a team defensively. 

“When you don’t make your shots, all of a sudden energy stops being there. But we have to continue playing the same defense,” said Kleber following the loss to the Pelicans. “There will be nights where we don’t make the shots – the whole league is struggling with shooting a little bit, but we can’t have those letdowns like today – especially on defense.”

Maxi Kleber

GettyMaxi Kleber protects the rim against the Houston Rockets.

Kleber has been one of the best defenders for the Mavericks this season, producing 12 blocks and seven steals in just 13 games. While he’s been hurt for a good portion of the season, the versatile forward has been a bright spot on the defensive end of the floor. 

Offense and defense aside, the Mavericks simply need to get healthy if they’re going to have success this season. Both Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have missed quite a bit of time, which has proven to be detrimental to Dallas over the past couple of seasons. 

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