But he'll need to be, the longer the New York Knicks stay in the playoffs.
Maybe he's saving his energy for the next series--especially if they face the Indiana Pacers next round. The Pacers finished first in rebounds per game in the regular season and if Carmelo Anthony continues to put up nearly everything he gets his hands on, they'll be on a feeding frenzy. Kidd needs to help steady the offensive pace with his extensive playoff experience and continue to be tough defensively on the boards.
In his career Kidd's now had 17 playoff appearances (three of which were during the reign of the Michael Jordan era Bulls), been to three NBA finals and has one championship under his belt with the Dallas Mavericks. At 40 years old, he's one of the few players still in the game who can truly say he's played against the best and now the Knicks need to look at him for the leadership he's given all season to get them this far.
While he's moving the ball well and keeping tough on defense, Kidd's struggling on offense so far against the Boston Celtics. He's 3-for-12 in field goal attempts, 3-for-10 from behind the arc and only averaging 3 assists per game. He may be coming off of a bench, but as a career point guard the statistics argue he needs to help create better opportunities not only for himself, but also for his teammates.
He's not as fast as he used to be either--darn you nature. What he lacks in speed, however, he has more than made up for with his defense, precision at the free-throw line and court awareness. Kidd, as a point guard, had 273 defensive rebounds this season, which is an average of just a little over three per game. Against the Celtics in the first round he's averaging just over five defensive rebounds per game. Granted playing the Celtics is about the same as playing the AARP league now, but if he can keep it up against the much younger Indiana Pacers he can help keep their rebounding abilities in check.
Kidd's stealing ability also helped the Knicks in the first game of the series. The Knicks trailed by three to start the fourth quarter, but produced enough turnovers to tip the scoring back to their favor. As a team they had seven steals and Kidd had three of those showing his defensive resilience and toughness the Knicks are going to need to battle into the NBA Finals.
It's offense where he needs to step up more the next round. It's safe to say Anthony is carrying the team on that side of the court averaging 33 points per game. Sixth Man award winner JR Smith has also stepped up as he did during the season and became an impact player in the playoffs--particularly in Game 2. And it's great to see the young talent step up to help the team, but it's up to the veterans to help them weather the storm. And that's where Kidd will come in next series.
With the series at 3-1 headed back to New York, we'll operate under the assumption the Knicks will advance. While you should never count out the Celtics, no team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit to advance in the playoffs.
The Knicks have already experienced the toughness of the Pacers splitting the season series 2-2. And any team who is that tough in the regular season becomes tougher in the post-season, which doesn't bode well for the veteran.
Against the Pacers, Kidd is an abysmal 3-for-20 from the field, a 15 percent average, he was limited to just eight defensive rebounds in the four games, but also had nine steals and 12 assists. His ability to create both turnovers and opportunities is exactly what the Knicks are going to need to make it into the Eastern Conference championship.
Kidd knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and Knicks fans should expect him to step up bigger the deeper they go--because he will.
Tim Bearden has covered professional sports in Chicago since 2010. He's extensively covered the Chicago Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox. Tim made himself familiar not only with his Chicago home teams, but also with their division opponents. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism and has written sports for Buzz Magazine, the Chicagoist and his own blog FantasyFreakout.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jason Kidd
- New York Knicks
- Indiana Pacers
- Boston Celtics