Jason Kidd's massive lineup change turned Mavericks defense from awful to elite

Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

Heading into the Dallas Mavericks' March 7 matchup against the Miami Heat, they had lost five of their last six games. This was arguably their worst stretch of the season, and they had lost to Indiana twice, Cleveland, Boston, and Philadelphia.

The Mavericks' season was trending downward with just over a month remaining, and fans were starting to hit the panic button. During this stretch from February 25 until March 5, the Mavs had the worst defensive rating in the NBA (127.3) by over five points.

The only way Dallas could win any of these games was if they put up 136 points as they did against the Toronto Raptors, and that was their only win during that time frame.

Something needed to change quickly, and Mavs head coach Jason Kidd came up with the perfect lineup change that has propelled the Mavs to a 13-2 record since March 7.

Jason Kidd starting Daniel Gafford and Derrick Jones Jr. makes Mavericks defense elite

Kidd decided to start Daniel Gafford and Derrick Jones Jr. over Dereck Lively II and Josh Green, and although it was a shocking decision at first, it has paid dividends for the team's success. It was reported a source from within the Mavs thought that Lively II was hitting a rookie wall while Green also wasn't playing too well.

Since making this lineup change, the Mavs have the No. 1 ranked defense in the NBA (105.4). Kidd hasn't gotten enough credit for how much this change has helped Dallas on both ends of the floor, and both Gafford and Jones Jr. have been crucial pieces for this team.

With Lively II's recent injury, Gafford is playing some of the most minutes we've seen since coming to Dallas. Friday night against the Golden State Warriors, Gafford played 31 minutes and finished with 10 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. Gafford's passing has been excellent lately, and he is the perfect starting center for this squad.

Jones Jr. on the other hand has also been excellent, and he finished with nine points and three blocks, and his defense on Stephen Curry was outstanding. Guarding one of the best point guards of all time is no easy task, and Jones Jr. made life hard on him.

While other players outside of Jones Jr. and Gafford have stepped up defensively, they have been the ones who have buckled down on that end the most along with P.J. Washington. The Mavs defense is elite, and they could be scary contenders in the Western Conference if they keep this up.

Kidd and the Mavs' next game is later today against the Houston Rockets.

For all the latest on Derrick Jones Jr., Daniel Gafford, and the Dallas Mavericks for their highly anticipated playoff push, stay tuned.