After a tough loss in their first NBA Playoffs clash with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Dallas Mavericks need to find all the answers to bounce back. Jason Kidd can employ different coverages to slow down Paul George and the rest of this squad but it will necessitate some personnel. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have already proven that they are capable of turning it up but it looks like Daniel Gafford's status is up in the air. Will the Mavericks big man get to play?

Jason Kidd outlined that the Mavericks' vertical threat is fine. Daniel Gafford was also apparently a full participant in their practice before Game 2 of the NBA Playoffs' first round, via Grant Afseth of Sports Illustrated.

“He did everything. He was great. He's fine,” the Mavericks head honcho wrote.

The big man went down and left Mavericks fans holding their breath for a good while. He had an ankle injury while playing drop coverage against Paul George. However, he did not think much of the discomfort and claimed that it was nothing ‘too serious'.

Daniel Gafford was only on the floor for 14 minutes of action in the first game against the Clippers. He only sank out of his four field goal attempts and shot one for two on his free throws for three points. Defensively, he was able to help the Luka Doncic-led Mavericks in preventing much penetration. This led to him recording a blocked shot in the game.

Jason Kidd did not see anyone from the Mavericks quite step up. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combined for 64 points alongside 10 assists and 20 rebounds. But, no one else came close to their production. The most help they got was from PJ Washington who scored 11 points while racking in seven rebounds.

Hopefully, everyone is able to produce more in the second game of this series. It is especially important that they do so because the Clippers might still be without Kawhi Leonard and they need to take advantage of that.

Gafford's time with the Mavericks so far

Apr 21, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) goes up for a dunk in the second half of game one of the first round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the against the Los Angeles Clippers at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In the short 29 games he has played under Jason Kidd, Gafford has been a big boost for the Mavericks. Their head honcho entrusts him with an average playing time of 21.5 minutes. He makes the most out of it. He is recording a career-high 11.2 points while knocking down shots at an insanely efficient 78% field goal shooting percentage. Gafford also grabs 6.9 rebounds per contest which is the most he has ever gotten in his short NBA tenure so far.

More importantly, the Mavericks got him such that they notched an elite rim protector. He also did not disappoint in that aspect of the game. Gafford records an average of 1.9 blocks on a nightly basis which means that he more than met expectations with his new team.

All of these numbers are important for the Mavericks. The Clippers should not just be allowed to play lax defense and make their way to the rim with ease. If Gafford and the other big men also contribute larger numbers, they will surely get back into this series in no time.