How Jason Kidd’s Mavericks fared in the NBA playoff series after dropping Game 1

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Mavericks have lost Game 1 of a playoff series six times during Jason Kidd’s tenure as head coach.

Kyrie Irving compares Game 1 to the first move in a chess match. Adjustments are made after both opponents get to know each other’s tendencies and habits. The general perception of the first game in a playoff series is that of a feel-out game.

Regardless of position, the Mavericks trail the Boston Celtics 1-0 after Thursday’s lopsided loss (107-89). Despite the increased sense of attention after Game 1 and some statements that Boston will ultimately prevail, it’s not foreign territory for Dallas.

The Mavericks lost every Game 1 in their postseason run to the Western Conference Finals in 2021-2022, along with the first series of this year’s playoffs. Dallas’ record in those series is 4–1, with the lone loss coming to the Golden State Warriors, who ultimately advanced to the NBA Finals and won the championship.

“It’s a series,” Kidd said. “No one wins the series by winning just one game.”

Here’s a look at the past six series where the Mavericks have fallen behind after the first game of a series since Kidd was hired in 2021.

First round vs. Jazz (2021-2022)

Kidd’s first playoff series as coach of the Mavericks came a year after Dallas lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of two consecutive playoff appearances. Dallas lost Game 1 at the American Airlines Center before winning the next four of five games, defeating the Jazz in six games on the road. Doncic missed the first three games due to a calf injury suffered in the regular season finale. Former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson stepped up in his absence, leading Dallas to two wins before Doncic scored a total of 33 points with 13 rebounds in Game 5. Dallas defeated Utah by two points in Game 6 to advance to the next series.

Dallas Mavericks players (from left) Reggie Bullock (25), Dwight Powell (behind Bullock), Luka Doncic, Moses Wright, Dorian Finney-Smith and owner Mark Cuban celebrate a 3-pointer during a second’s fourth quarter in Game 7 . round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. The Mavericks won the game 123-90 to advance to the Western Conference Finals. (Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

Conference Semifinals vs. Suns (2021-2022)

All hope seemed lost as Dallas fell behind 2-0 after losing both games on the road to the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix fans chanted “Sweep! Sweep” during Game 2 when the Suns defeated the Mavericks by 20. Doncic and Brunson, along with the rest of the Mavericks, duplicated what they did in the first round, winning four of the next five games to defeat the Suns in seven games. Dallas won three of the final four games of the series by at least 10 points, including huge blowouts in Games 6 and 7 to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Western Conference Final vs. Warriors (2021-2022)

This is the only loss on the Mavericks’ playoff record since Kidd took over in 2021 that did not result in a comeback to win the series. The Warriors, a year after being eliminated from the Play-In Tournament, reclaimed their status as the best team in the NBA. Dallas fell behind 3-0 – the likes of which has yet to be overcome in NBA history. The Mavericks managed to win Game 4 of the series, but lost the series in five games after Klay Thompson had an excellent performance with eight three-pointers.

Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford and LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac battle for a rebound during the second half of Game 1 of their first-round playoff series in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 21, 2024.(Ashley Landis / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

First Round vs. Clippers (2023-24)

Look no further than the Mavericks’ first-round matchup against the Clippers to see that it’s possible for the current version of the team to bounce back from a Game 1 loss on the road. After taking a punch to the mouth in Game 1, Dallas quickly bounced back to take advantage of a Clippers team trying to get Kawhi Leonard back into the lineup. Dominant second-half performances from Irving proved to be the difference for Dallas as Doncic played with a right knee sprain and illness. The Mavericks defeated the Clippers in Game 6 to win the series 4–2.

First Round vs. Thunder (2023-24)

Dallas fell behind by 12 points early in Game 1 and came within one midway through the third quarter. After the ensuing timeout, Oklahoma City exploded with a 20-7 run in the final five minutes of the period. Oklahoma City exuded the energy and effort needed to come out on top while taking advantage of a short-handed Mavericks team and a limping Doncic. Despite a significant size advantage, the Mavericks were outrebounded 52-39 and faced foul trouble from their starting frontcourt.

Doncic has built up enough experience to realize that a series after Game 1 is not yet decided. He was asked if there was any optimism given that he has seen the situation before.

“At the end of the day, one team has to get four wins,” Doncic said. “We obviously want to get Game 1, but we just have to watch film and move on to the next one. There’s a new match in two days, so we still have a chance to win.’

The Mavericks went on to win four of the next five games in the series, defeating the Thunder 4–2 and advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three years.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic pauses as guard Jaden Hardy prepares to check in for him during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Boston.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

NBA Finals vs. Celtics (2023-2024)

After trailing by 21 points at halftime, Dallas put together a 20-7 run in the third quarter to bring the game within single digits. Doncic played a crucial role in that attack. His NBA Finals debut with 30 points, 10 rebounds and one assist gave the Mavericks a fighting chance in front of a hostile Celtics crowd.

But the Celtics regained their composure and defeated the Mavericks 107-89 in Game 1.

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