God Shammgod

Mavericks Notes: Kidd, Doncic, Lively, Irving

Dallas is now 1-6 in playoff series openers under coach Jason Kidd, so there was no cause for alarm following the Game 1 loss in Boston, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The Mavericks suffered double-digit defeats in their first games against the Clippers and Thunder on their way to the NBA Finals, MacMahon notes, and they rebounded with road victories in Game 2 each time. So it was business as usual at Saturday’s practice.

“There’s no panic with this group,” Kidd said. “We didn’t play well in Game 1. Give credit to Boston; they did. But it’s a series. We don’t just look or capitalize on just one game. We’ve lost Game 1 a lot of times, and we’ve responded. We believe that we can respond in Game 2.”

The team’s resiliency starts with Luka Doncic, who holds the highest scoring average in Game 2s in playoff history at 33.9 PPG, according to MacMahon. That number rises to 34.3 following a loss. Doncic put up 30 points on Thursday night, but he was limited to one assist, and Kidd has urged him to “take the layups” if the Celtics continue to focus on preventing him from throwing lobs or passes to corner shooters.

“I think just be a little bit more aggressive,” Doncic said. “I think we all came out for the game with little energy. So I think we have to be better with our energy, especially from the start.”

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • After a subpar Game 1, Dereck Lively II got some words of encouragement via text message from former Dallas center Tyson Chandler, per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Chandler, who has become a mentor for Lively, didn’t want the rookie center to get discouraged after foul trouble helped limit him to two points and five rebounds. “All he’s telling me to do is the little things, no matter if that’s hitting them on the box-out or being able to talk to my teammates on the backside,” Lively said. “Just doing the little things so that everybody is connected on the court, so we’re not leaving anybody behind.” 
  • Meeting with reporters on Friday, commissioner Adam Silver addressed Kyrie Irving‘s apology for endorsing an antisemitic film in Brooklyn two years ago and his journey toward reinstatement, relays Sam Amick of The Athletic. Irving had to complete six “action items” before he could return to the league, and Silver was convinced that he remorse he showed was genuine. “I felt comfortable vouching for him, in essence, because I knew him,” Silver said. “I knew his character and felt that it was important that — while he acknowledged that he had made a mistake — that his entire career and character not be framed by one bad moment. I mean, having said that, he paid a price, of course, for that misstep. But he did a lot (to make amends).”
  • Tim Cato of The Athletic looks at the role Mavericks assistant God Shammgod played in forging a successful on-court partnership between Irving and Doncic.

Mavericks Notes: Playoff Success, Irving, Doncic, Finals Matchup

The Mavericks didn’t mind being under the radar when the playoffs started, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas didn’t get much notice after going 50-32 and finishing as the No. 5 seed in the West, but the team was much more dangerous than its record indicated. The Mavs closed the regular season on a 15-1 run and were fully confident heading into the postseason, as Kyrie Irving explained after the team punched its ticket to the NBA Finals Thursday night.

“We’ve grown over the past few months,” Irving said. “This has been a journey for us. I like to think that being fifth took some pressure off of us coming into this postseason. Everybody was looking at the top three seeds, so I felt like we snuck in there a little bit and surprised a few teams. But the guys in the locker room have always had that utmost confidence in one another.”

The Mavericks’ journey from a lottery team last season to potential NBA champs was punctuated by a pair of deadline deals in February that brought in Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington. Combined with the addition of Dereck Lively II in last year’s draft, that created a versatile supporting cast around Irving and Luka Doncic.

“If you look at our regular season, I don’t think it tells the whole truth of who we are — or who we were,” Irving added. “I felt like the second half of the season, everybody got to kind of see what we were made of.”

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Minority team owner Mark Cuban believes Dallas was able to rejuvenate Irving “by listening to him and not telling him,” Marc Stein notes in a Substack column. There were plenty of doubters when the Mavs traded for Irving in February 2023 and again when they re-signed him last summer, but he and Doncic have figured out how to be successful together. The organization has created an ideal environment for Irving, Stein adds. Jason Kidd is a head coach he respects, general manger Nico Harrison was Irving’s longtime business partner at Nike, assistant coach God Shammgod is a close friend who works with Irving every day, and Markieff Morris is a trusted teammate who provides emotional support.
  • Doncic took control early in Game 5 and sent a message that the Mavericks were ready to close out the series, observes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. He finished with 36 points, his highest-scoring game of the playoffs, and 10 of those came in the first 2:33 of action. “It was Luka magic mode,” Kidd said. “He set the tone, and then he made it easier for everyone else. Everybody else stepped up.”
  • The Celtics will present a fresh matchup problem for the Mavericks in the Finals, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Hollinger points out that Dallas likes to keep its centers close to the basket, even if that means giving up three-point shots to opposing big men, but that’s a risky strategy against Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford.

Mavs Officially Announce Jason Kidd’s Coaching Staff

The Mavericks issued a press release on Tuesday evening officially announcing Jason Kidd‘s coaching staff, confirming a handful of previously-reported hires.

Igor Kokoskov is perhaps the most noteworthy addition, fresh off a stint as the head coach of EuroLeague team Fenerbahçe. Kokoskov has served as an assistant for seven different NBA teams over the last two decades and was the head coach in Phoenix for the 2018/19 season. Reports in July indicated that Kokoskov was expected to join Kidd’s staff.

Fourteen-year NBA veteran Jared Dudley, whose agreement with the Mavs was reported last week, was also officially announced as an assistant coach.

Kokoskov and Dudley will be joined by Sean Sweeney, who worked with Kidd during his previous head coaching stints in Milwaukee and Brooklyn, and Greg St. Jean, who worked alongside Kidd with the Lakers over the last two seasons.

Kristi Toliver, fresh off her 12th season as a WNBA player, will also be an assistant coach on Kidd’s staff, with Darrell Armstrong, God Shammgod, and Peter Patton rounding out the group. Armstrong, Shammgod, and Patton are holdovers from Rick Carlisle‘s coaching staff.