X-factor in Dallas Mavericks second-round playoff series vs. Suns: 5. Defense
The Mavs finished 21st in defensive rating last season, and they just simply were not good enough on that end of the floor to be true title contenders. Improving the defense was one of the top items on Jason Kidd’s agenda when he was hired as head coach last summer, and the Mavericks jumped to seventh at 109.1 points per 100 possessions allowed this season.
Their defense was even better in the first round of the playoffs. The Jazz had the highest offensive rating in the NBA during the regular season, but the Mavs held them to 108.4 points per 100 possessions in the postseason.
Coach Kidd’s defensive scheme limits shots at the rim and beyond the 3-point line. It was a strategy they used to perfection to defeat the Jazz. Utah attempted over 40 threes per game during the regular season, but the Mavericks held them to 29.8 a night for the series as they upped their triples to hold a math advantage.
The Suns are one of the mid-range shooting teams in the NBA. They finished second in both attempts and percentage during the regular season, and they increased both in their first-round series win over the Pelicans. Can the Mavericks' defense adjust and slow down the high-powered Suns?