Jason Kidd's unreasonable gamble dooms Mavericks in Game 3 loss to Celtics

Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd
Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Heading into Game 3 on Wednesday night, the vibes were immaculate in Dallas.

Fans were optimistic about the team's chances to turn the tide of the series against the Boston Celtics and make the series interesting, but that was not the case in Game 3 as the Mavs now trail 3-0 in the series.

Despite Dallas' strong start, they couldn't hold on late. The Mavericks didn't have enough offensive firepower to get the win in the second half, and they ended up losing 106-99. Dallas batted back in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough.

Jason Kidd's gamble to play Tim Hardaway Jr. dooms Mavericks in Game 3 loss to Celtics

There are plenty of reasons to point to when talking about why Dallas lost Game 3, but one of the most pressing could be Jason Kidd's costly gamble to play Tim Hardaway Jr. in this game over Jaden Hardy.

Hardaway Jr. clocked 19 minutes in this game, and he finished with zero points while shooting 0-5 from the field. He has been unplayable all Finals long, and Kidd deciding to play him with Dallas' season on the line was a questionable decision, to say the least.

Hardaway Jr. was awful in his minutes, and it makes no sense that Kidd didn't at least try Hardy in the second half. Hardy was huge for the Mavs in their series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he could have provided the Mavs with some energy and scoring off the bench.

Kidd also almost completely went away from Derrick Jones Jr. in the second half, and he is someone who could have at least stopped the bleeding when Boston was draining threes in the second half. Jones Jr. was coming off a good game in Game 2, and he didn't have much of a chance to even begin to get going in Game 3. This was largely due to the Celtics not giving him many open looks, but going away from your starting wing when you need a win is also a questionable choice from Kidd.

Kidd has been outstanding as a coach through the playoffs, but there isn't much of a reason that Hardaway Jr. should have gotten as much run as he has. The Mavs' need for a third scorer is as pressing as ever, and Hardaway Jr.'s shooting slump over the last few months has been much more impactful than most people realize. Kidd can't trust him, and that was evident in Game 3.

The 2024 NBA Finals could be Hardaway Jr.'s last games in Dallas if they try to trade him as they did last summer, and, unfortunately, his game has recessed so much as time went on this season.

The Mavs still have a chance to win this series, but they're going to have to make history to do it. No team has ever come back when down 3-0, and this Celtics team seems built for this moment.

For all the latest on Jason Kidd, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jaden Hardy, and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Finals, stay tuned.