Jason Kidd shoots, prepares for young guns
Kidd stayed behind to fire off endless 3-pointers around the horn as assistant coach Monte Mathis barked encouragement -- "There's the rhythm," Mathis repeated -- and assistant Darrell Armstrong rebounding.
"We had a couple of days off, so just trying to get back in the spirit of things," a sweat-drenched Kidd said, "and trying to get better."
Whichever team the Mavs eventually face -- either the Oklahoma City Thunder or Memphis Grizzlies -- the challenges will change for Kidd. While Kidd guarded Kobe Bryant -- and quite effectively -- more than he could have imagined heading into the second-round series, the 38-year-old has gone up against two of the league's elder statesmen at the position, Portland Trail Blazers Andre Miller (35) and the Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher (36).
That will change. Consider that Memphis' backcourt of point guard Mike Conley and reserve shooting guard O.J. Mayo are a combined 46 years old. Both are 23. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is 22 and shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha is a wise, old 27 as of 10 days ago (Kidd won't guard Kevin Durant, but the Texas ex is also just 22).
"Yes, they might be younger, but also they are talented and we're going to have our hands full with whoever we play," Kidd said.
But does experience trump youth, however talented the youth might be, especially in crunch time of a conference final? The Thunder and Grizzlies in their ongoing series have both shown to be prone to poor decision-making, and both teams have let sizable leads slip away (not that the veteran Mavs don't know something about that, too). Westbrook has taken heat for taking too many shots and not involving Durant enough.
Kidd will see his fair share of defensive time against both team's shooting guards and more spot duty, such as late in games, against the point guards. However, with the success Kidd had defending Bryant both the start and end of games, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle could go either way -- and probably will.
"I think making plays always trumps [age]," Kidd said. "No matter what age you are you have to make the right play at the right time, and Westbrook and Conley can do that. They wouldn't be still playing if they didn't. Again, at that guard position, whoever's guarding them is going to have their hands full."
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