DALLAS _ In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Jason Kidd had to chase slower point guards named Andre Miller of the Portland Trail Blazers and Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers.
That won’t be the case for the Dallas Mavericks’ playmaker in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the fastest players in the league from baseline-to-baseline.
And that will more than keep Kidd _ no spring chicken at age 38 -- on his toes.
“He puts a lot of pressure on the defense when he gets the rebound or he gets the outlet passes,’’ Kidd said of the 22-year old Westbrook. “He puts a lot of pressure no matter if it’s one, two or three guys back on defense.
“He has the ability to get in the paint and make things happen. He’s right there with (Chicago’s Derrick) Rose in being able to get from one end to the other in two or three seconds.’’
Kidd admits trying to contain Westbrook has its challenges. But he’s more than up for that challenge starting with trying to get him out of rhythm.
“He’s starting to be very comfortable in shooting the jump shot,’’ Kidd said. “At this point you’ve got to again, make it tough, and tip your hat when he does make jump shots.
“But again you try to keep him out of the paint. And that’s easier said than done because he can get to the basket whenever he wants to.’’
Kidd, though, didn’t throw Miller and Fisher under the bus just because they’re not as fast as Westbrook.
“When you’re talking about Miller, he’s a fancy point guard and obviously knows how to play the game,’’ Kidd said. “Fisher is a veteran who has won (five) championships, so you can put those guys in that class.
“They’re totally different players. For me, (guarding Westbrook is) just to try and keep him in front and do the best and hope that he misses.’’
As for having the chance to even be in position to defend the much younger Westbrook, Kidd has some choice words for those critics who already think he’s going to struggle in this series.
“They might be right,’’ Kidd said. “But the big thing is there might be a lot of jealousy that I’m still playing at 38.’’
-- Dwain Price
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