Kidd preparing Mavs' D for different look: 'This isn't Gobert or Whiteside'
After shepherding the Dallas Mavericks to a 4-2 series win over the Utah Jazz in the first round, head coach Jason Kidd knows his team will have to switch things up on the defensive end against the different stylings of a dominant Phoenix Suns squad.
"We have to adapt. Our game plan against Utah is not going to work against the Suns," Kidd said Sunday, per Fanatics View. "We've already changed that mindset because we're not playing the Jazz.
"We understand (the Suns') strength is the midrange, but they can hurt you with the three in transition and they can hurt you in the paint with JaVale (McGee) and (Deandre) Ayton. This isn't (Rudy) Gobert or (Hassan) Whiteside; these guys can put the ball in the basket, so our bigs are going to be tested."
It's not totally accurate to characterize the Jazz's centers as ineffective scorers; Gobert finished the regular season shooting a career-best 71.3% from the floor to lead the league in field-goal accuracy for the third time in four seasons.
The key stylistic difference between the Jazz's and Suns' centers is where Utah's prefer to do the bulk of their damage. Gobert attempted over 93% of his shots within 5 feet of the hoop, per NBA Stats.
By comparison, only 46.3% of the field-goal attempts from Suns starter Ayton came within 5 feet of the hoop. The former first-round pick shot 59.9% in the paint outside the restricted area and even went 7-of-19 (36.8%) on threes. Including the playoffs, Gobert has missed all 12 of his long-range attempts for his career.
(Just under 71% of McGee's shots came within 5 feet of the hoop this season, comparable to Whiteside's mark of 72.7%.)
For Mavs centers Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell, the dynamism of the rangier Ayton in particular will stretch their defensive presence. During their first-round series, Jazz players hit just 33.9% of shots from 6 feet from the hoop or farther away when Kleber was the closest defender and 37.5% against Powell in the same situation.
Ayton averaged 13.5 points on 65% shooting with 15 rebounds and two assists per game in two outings against Dallas this season.