Coach Confirms Heat Forward ‘Helped’ Mavericks Beat Suns in Game 7

PJ Tucker

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat plays against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on November 23, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

During the latest episode of Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson‘s The Long Shot podcast, he interviews Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, and the two discussed the highs and lows of their respective playoff runs.

During the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Mavericks (No. 4 seed) faced off against the Phoenix Suns (No. 1 seed), and “literally nobody expected us to win that series,” Brunson tells Robinson.

In Game 7, the Mavs defeated the Suns in a dominating 123-90 victory and while Brunson was confident they could pull out the win, he didn’t expect it to be so lopsided. Robinson tells Brunson that on the day of that win-or-go-home game, the consensus in the Heat locker room was “Phoenix probably got this one,” except for one player: P.J. Tucker.

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“He was adamant,” Robinson says of Tucker. “[He said] ‘I talked to Jared Dudley (assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks). I gave him the game plan! I got Dallas! Dallas is winning this one. I talk to Duds.'”

“I don’t know if P.J. had any input into the game plan but he came in the next day beating his chest like ‘I told you guys!'” Robinson, 28, adds with a laugh. “It was pretty funny… So, maybe I dunno. PJ should be a coach or something because the game plan seemed to work. Clearly.”

Brunson, 25, quickly agrees. I feel like P.J. would be a great coach. I don’t know why but if you’ve been in the league this long, you’ve seen a lot and your knowledge is outta this world so I can see that happening for sure.”

Dudley Confirmed That He Heard From Tucker Before Game 7

A popular Mavericks fan account tweeted about Robinson’s conversation with Brunson, which caught Dudley’s attention. The former player, who was the 22nd overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, and won a Championship title with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in August 2021, confirmed he heard from Tucker before Game 7.

Dudley tweeted, “He def expressed what we should do… 🤣🤣.” So, while the Heat veteran did offer up a game plan, it’s not clear if any part was utilized by Mavericks’ head coach Jason Kidd.

Phoenix Suns

GettyGoran Dragic #1 (C) of the Phoenix Suns stands with teammates (L-R) Luis Scola #14, Marcin Gortat #4, Jared Dudley #3 and P.J. Tucker #17 during the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 24, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Both Dudley and Tucker played for the Suns, and their tenures overlapped during the 2012 NBA season. While Dudley was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in July 2013, Tucker remained with Phoenix through the first half of the 2016 NBA season and was traded back to the Toronto Raptors, the team that initially drafted him, in February 2017.

Tucker Is 1 Year Older Than Dudley, But Has No Plans to Coach Any Time Soon

P.J. Tucker

GettyP.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat reacts after being called for a foul against the Boston Celtics during the third quarter in Game Four of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.

While both Robinson and Brunson agree that Tucker, who was the 35th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, would make a fantastic coach, the dominant defender has no plans to stop playing any time soon.

Tucker, 37, is a year older than Dudley, but instead of debating whether or not it’s time to hang up his jersey, he’s in the midst of deciding whether or not he’ll opt into the second year of his $14.35 million contract with Miami.

“It’s like, ‘Am I a mid-level guy?’” Tucker told the Sun-Sentinel on June 2, which according to reporter Ira Winderman, was “in a tone that made it clear he believed he was not.”

Tucker said of his $7.4 million player option for next season, “It’s a label that tells a guy what you think he is worth.”

While it seemed like Tucker returning to Miami was a lock, and the Heat’s top brass have made it emphatically clear they would love to keep Tucker, CBS Sports reporter Sam Quinn surmised, “After a strong postseason run, [Tucker] could probably opt-out and at the very least command multiple years at his current salary.”

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