Friday, February 29, 2008

I don't mean to rip Avery, but...

I really enjoy it when someone says "I don't mean to be ________, but..." because that's usually exactly what they mean to be. In fact, a Google search of "I don't mean to be" can be an amusing way to kill some time. Some examples:

I don't mean to be rude, but you're an idiot. This person is rude.

I don't mean to be a total dork, but I want to remind everyone that there is a total lunar eclipse tonight and, barring really horrible weather here, we should have a great view of it. This person is a total dork. He even goes on to say "Whoo hoo! I loves me some lunar eclipse."

See what I mean? Here's one more:

I don't mean to rip Avery, but...

Last night, the Mavericks lost a close one to the Spurs, 94-97. But coming out of a game that was full of playoff-like tension, everyone is talking about two guys who were on the bench: Avery Johnson and Jason Kidd.

Yes, that Jason Kidd.

For the final thirty-five seconds, spanning two Mavs possessions, Johnson had Kidd riding pine.

Didn't they trade for him to provide leadership? To get easier shots for Dirk, Josh and Co.? To finish games? Does Johnson expect Kidd to do all that from the sideline? Why did he push for the trade if he isn't going to play him in crunch time, especially against the Spurs?

We could all understand when Avery kept a tight grip on the reins when Devin Harris was playing the point. But if you are going to bring Kidd in here, you have got to let him do his thing and get out of the way. If this team is going to have any chance at success, Avery is going to have to get the ball in Kidd's hands when the game is on the line.

Avery has had a phenomenal start to his coaching career. But look at the team he was handed. They were supposed to be good. And let's be honest: he got coached out of the gym against Nelson and the Warriors last year. And last night, his need for control sabotaged the game. Avery's offense is stagnant and Kidd was brought in to be the cure. Instead, he's on the bench.

Avery came in as the anti-Nellie, but after only a few years, he is losing this team. They have already lost some of the defensive intensity he instilled in them. And while Kidd is toeing the company line, Dirk pointedly referred all questions about Kidd's benching to the coach. When you have a superstar with a fragile nature, this is not what you want.

For his part, Avery reasoned that he wanted to spread the floor with shooters so the Spurs wouldn't double team Dirk. This ignores the fact that they acquired Kidd because Nowitzki was having to work too hard for his shots. If Kidd was on the court, perhaps he makes Dirk's shot a bit easier. Avery's decisions have been questionable this year; last night's was madness. Dallas fans thought Avery was brilliant, but since last year's playoffs, he appears to be panicking, with last night's move being the latest and perhaps greatest.


rus said...

Stick a fork in Avery because he is done. After the 2006 finals choke in which Pat Riley just schooled him and the 2007 Golden State debacle in which he adjusted his lineup to match them, he has lost this team. How can he look Dirk and Kidd in the face after that complete brain freeze. I'm just dumbfounded.

PJ said...

I admit that I didn't watch the game, mostly because it's the NBA, but also because it was the debut of Brad Richards - My new favorite Dallas Star*. I'll write more about that later (hopefully today). But when is it a good time to have one of your best players on the bench at the end of a close game. I don't coach, but that makes no sense to me. So, you have a lot of shooters, but no one to get them the ball? I'm lost.

* - Please note - My new Favorite Dallas Star refers to after Modano and Zubov retire...