Milwaukee Bucks: Examining Jason Kidd’s Postseason Impact

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Through the first three games of their first round series with the Toronto Raptors, the Milwaukee Bucks have undoubtedly looked like the better team overall. While all of the accolades fall on the shoulders of the players, some credit deserves to go Jason Kidd‘s way too.

We’re not even a week into this year’s postseason, but the Milwaukee Bucks have quickly become the darling of every NBA postseason watcher’s eye.

Following their thrashing of the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, the Bucks find themselves up 2-1 in their first round series with the neighboring team to the North-East. While we all aren’t close to coming down from the high of last night’s beatdown, their performance throughout this series has certainly created a buzz that’s following the team right now.

They stunned the Raptors on their home floor in the opening contest and hung with them until the final minute before falling 106-100 in Game 2 earlier in the week. With their commanding performance last night as the series has now turned to Milwaukee, the adulation keeps on coming for the players who have helped get the Bucks to this point in the series.

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From star player Giannis Antetokounmpo to the well-rounded Khris Middleton and Greg Monroe, the Bucks have been running on all cylinders throughout the three games they’ve played so far against the Raptors. Although the recognition won’t stop anytime soon and rightly so, one other name should join that company.

At this point into his tenure, we’ve become incredibly familiar with the tendencies and stylings of Bucks head coach Jason Kidd.  So much of the perception that surrounds Kidd has changed dramatically since his opening season with the team a couple of seasons ago.

When the team has been at their worst, Kidd is everyone’s biggest source of frustration and the leading scapegoat in the Bucks organization for everyone to pin their blame on. When the Bucks are at their best, Kidd’s name is often nowhere to be found, which isn’t all that surprising considering the all-out force that Giannis has become this year.

But so far this postseason, Kidd has helmed a team that has put their best foot forward. The current score of this series is already enough evidence that he has the team trending in the right direction, but Kidd’s adjustments throughout the series have helped almost as much as the players’ contributions.

For example, Kidd’s management of last night’s decisive game was as assertive as the team’s performance itself. He shortened the rotation, cutting out Spencer Hawes and swapped the struggling Mirza Teletovic in favor of Michael Beasley, who has had his struggles leading up to the postseason.

That was a switch that couldn’t have worked out better as Beasley helped pile more misery upon the Raptors as he finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and was a perfect 3-for-3 from deep.

Along with that, there was his decision to reinsert the team’s starting lineup early in the fourth quarter to squash any hope of a final push from the Raptors before putting on the finishing touches for the night. While one may believe this was contained to one game, Kidd has increasingly been eager to make the right adjustments throughout the series.

He’s increasingly relied on rookie Thon Maker for key stretches, as the rookie has been incredibly impressive on both ends of the floor in his growing minutes. Kidd’s also looked to neutralize the Raptors’ stars, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, by inserting effective defenders like Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell on the duo shortly after they make their way on the floor, respectively.

All of this is not to say that some of Kidd’s decisions haven’t gotten under people’s skin, but at the same time, that’s also the nature of the beast from our collective vantage point and certainly the stakes of the playoffs come into play with all of our demands.

With all of this said, Kidd’s management over these last three games won’t do much to reverse everyone’s personal stance on him. Of course, it’s a small sample size and the job is far from over for Kidd to help ensure the team finishes and ultimately collects their first playoff series victory since their glorious 2001 postseason run.

It’s fair to say most, if not everyone, has their own reservations about Kidd to various degrees having watched him work as this team’s coach for the last three seasons.

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For the time being though, credit should be given where it’s due and overall, in the last week Jason Kidd has pushed all the right buttons to help lead the Bucks to where they currently stand in this series.