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Luka Doncic, Dallas have Jason Kidd’s new game plan blow up in their faces

Luka Doncic, Jason Kidd, Mavs

Jason Kidd’s much-anticipated coaching debut for the Dallas Mavericks was off to a rough start as Luka Doncic and the team struggles on opening night. The Mavs visited Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night to jumpstart their season but unfortunately struggled as they fell 113-87 to start their season on a sour note.

Field goal shooting was the main hurdle on Thursday as the Mavs ended up tallying just 33.3% from the field while the Hawks shot nearly 50%. Add to that, shot quality wasn’t the best either. Aside from putting up duds, Dallas was clamped down by Atlanta’s defense and was limited to just a 48.8% expected shot quality which only happened six times last season under former head coach Rick Carlisle (via Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

Prior to the start of the season, the 48-year old mentor was adamant about switching things up. Despite the efficiency of the Mavs’ scorers from outside, Kidd mentioned that his plan is to make the Mavs shoot fewer threes this season which caught the ire of a lot of Dallas fans. Obviously, if you have guys like Doncic, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Kristaps Porzingis, it would be tough to even consider shooting fewer three-pointers with how these three have shot from outside the arc over the past few seasons.

Despite that preseason memo from Kidd, the Mavs still put up 43 threes on Thursday night which was still way above their three-point numbers last season (38.1 attempts per game). Unfortunately, the Hawks’ defense limited the Mavs to an awful 30.2% from deep with Doncic, Hardaway, and Porzingis combining for just 5/17 from three-point distance.

Doncic, for his part, still put up decent numbers in his ’21-22 debut. The 22-year-old superstar finished with 18 points, 11 boards, and seven assists but had a difficult time all evening long with Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter clamping him down.

“He played great defense,” Doncic said on Hunter after the loss.

Hardaway added 14 while Porzingis chipped in with 11 and Jalen Brunson came off the bench with 17.  Other than those four, Kidd pretty much didn’t get anything from his entire roster. Key guys like Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, and even Trey Burke all struggled on opening night.

Obviously, it’s way too early to panic given that there are 81 games to go this season, but numbers don’t lie and it’s a bit tough for Mavs fans who have high hopes for another playoff run to see Kidd’s new reign start this way. With expectations at an all-time high, it would be tough for the former NBA champion to really please the fanbase until legitimate results come to fruition.

Then again, the Mavs need to trust the new system. It was a bad day and they shouldn’t let this loss drag on. Off nights like this ought to happen especially with a new team that’s still adjusting to a lot of changes. This loss was actually a good wake-up call after the team swept their preseason schedule 4-0 and now they know that it’s time to lock in as the regular season goes in full swing.

Kidd and the rest of the Mavs will have a chance to bounce back as they take a trip and battle it out against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. Hopefully, shots start to fall so Jason Kidd can get his first win as the franchise’s new head coach.