NBA Playoffs 2011: Jason Kidd is Key to Dallas Mavericks' Playoff Run

Nathan TannerContributor IIIApril 21, 2011

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 20:  Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks passes the ball during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I recently wrote an article that ranked the biggest overreactions of the NBA Playoffs so far.

The Dallas Mavericks were included on the list. I felt that when they beat the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1, people overreacted by saying the win proved that they were title contenders.

Before their series started, many NBA analysts predicted that the Blazers would upset the Mavs. Dallas had a huge victory in Game 1, but did a single win prove that they were legit? I didn’t think so.

Jason Kidd was the key to their success. If he doesn’t play out-of-his-mind basketball, the Mavs lose the game.

Kidd shot 9-of-14 from the field, 6-of-10 from beyond the arc and finished with 24 points. Kidd hadn’t scored 24 points in over a year!

While his performance was remarkable, I didn’t think that he could replicate it. Kidd hasn’t averaged more than 12 points per game in years and this season he averaged only eight points a game—a career low.

There’s a reason he doesn’t score a lot—he’s just not an accurate shooter. In his 17-year career, Kidd has shot only 40 percent from the field and 35 percent from downtown.

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So when the Mavs and Blazers faced off in Game 2, I felt pretty confident that he would come back down to earth. I thought Blazers would win the game and everyone would realize that they had overreacted to a Game 1 fluke.

I was wrong.

Kidd delivered once more and proved that lightning can strike the same place twice. He scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, made 50 percent of his three-pointers and the Mavs had another impressive win.

Kidd’s performance in the first two playoff games might be a stroke of luck. We might be witnessing a 38-year old who has just enough in the tank to play a couple games like he’s 28-years old.

Maybe he’s playing great because he doesn’t have to chase down a quick point guard. Maybe his performance has more to do with Andre Miller guarding him than anything else. Regardless of the reason for his resurgence, it’s probably not fair to expect this much from Kidd going forward.

But what if he does continue at this pace?

If he does keep playing at this level, the Mavs are a very difficult team to beat. They may lose a game or two in Portland, but they should have no problem taking the series.

If the Mavs do beat the Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers will most likely be waiting for them. Can they beat the defending champs in a seven-game series?

Probably not. But if Kidd keeps playing this way, they have a fighter’s chance.


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