Mavericks Fans Celebrate as Jason Kidd (Finally!) Changes Starting Five

Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein, top, in headband

Getty Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein, top, in headband

At last, Mavericks fans!

One of a handful of frustrating aspects around the early part of this NBA season for Dallas has been the determination of coach Jason Kidd to stick with undersize and overmatched Dwight Powell as the team’s center, despite some pretty terrible numbers when he is on the floor.

On Tuesday, mercifully, Kidd pulled the plug on Powell and put Willie Cauley-Stein into the starting five. Powell, who had been playing 22.2 minutes per game, played only 8:55 in the overtime win against the Clippers.

“We talked about it, we looked at it yesterday at practice, we thought this would be a good time to make a change,” Kidd explained after the game. “DP hasn’t done anything wrong, we just wanted to look at Willie starting for us, and Willie did a really good job for us tonight. Not jus tin the first half on the defensive end, but being a playmaker there in the second half there, he made the right reads and when he was available to take it to the rim, he did. But I thought he was great, I thought he did a really good job starting for us.”

Mavericks Centers Did Not Play Much vs. Clippers

Not that Cauley-Stein played much either—he was on the floor for just 17:03, and that might be part of a significant change for Kidd, as well. He has been reluctant to use small lineups all that much, but with the return of the 6-foot-10 Maxi Kleber, who came back from an oblique injury on Sunday, Kidd may get more comfortable using a frontcourt pairing of Kristaps Porzingis and Kleber.

WCS finished with just two points, two rebounds and assists. Mavs centers, including Boban Marjanovic, played only 25:59 of 53-minute overtime game.

The removal of Powell from the starting group was the big issue, though. He has been a detriment to the Mavs on both ends of the floor. According to, the Dallas offense scores 109.7 points per 100 possessions when Powell is off the floor and only 104.6 when he is on.

Defensively, opponents score 114.6 when Powell is playing, and 104.4 per 100 possessions when he is not. His minus-15.3 net rating is the worst on the team.

Mavericks Defense Stifled Clippers in Overtime

Even without a true center on the floor for much of the game, the Mavericks played excellent defense against the Clippers, holding L.A. to 41.2% shooting in the game. That was especially true in the overtime period, when the Mavs bounced back from a heart-breaking final-second shot to tie the game by Paul George to smother the Clippers, allowing only one point in the OT.

Said Kidd:

The defense was great for the whole game. That first half, we had them right where we wanted them because we couldn’t make a shot. So we believed in the second half we could make shots, they were going to fall at some point. We’ve seen that this season where we get open looks and they just rattle out.

I thought the guys did a great job being able to change coverages on the fly, being able to stay together mentally and physically, because this is the last game of the trip. A lot of times you can let go of the rope and get ready for Thanksgiving and start thinking about Saturday’s game. So, a lot of character.

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