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#pounditThursday, April 25, 2024

Jason Kidd explains risky Zion Williamson strategy at end of game

The Mavericks intentionally fouling Zion Williamson

Jason Kidd freelanced a bit during Monday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, but it ended up working out in his favor.

With his team nursing a 121-119 lead in the final 20 seconds, the Dallas Mavericks head coach Kidd made the gutsy call to intentionally foul Zion Williamson immediately after a Pelicans inbounds. While very unorthodox for a team leading by two, Kidd’s gamble worked like a charm as Williamson split the two ensuing free throws. The Mavericks went on to win 125-120 as the Pelicans did not score again from there.

Here is the video (hit the arrow on the right side to scroll to it).

After the game, Kidd explained his gambit to reporters. He said the strategy was to play the percentages and foul Williamson before Williamson could make a move to the basket, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com.

Intentionally fouling while up two on the final defensive possession virtually guarantees that you cannot lose in regulation (assuming that you can secure a defensive rebound off a missed free throw). The move also made sense in the context of the game since Williamson already had 29 points on 12-of-17 from the field at that moment (but is just a 66.4 percent free throw shooter this season).

On the other hand, most coaches will trust their defense and choose not to risk unnecessarily prolonging a game into overtime when just one stop (with the defense already set in the halfcourt, no less) can seal it in regulation. But the move worked to perfection for Kidd, and it wasn’t even the weirdest thing he has ever done for the sake of gaining a strategic edge.

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