There is something about facing the same opponent over and over in the NBA that breeds annoyance and contempt. It might lead to post-victory gloating that can be taken either as unsavory or tongue-in-cheek fun, depending on your perspective.
After a messy and exciting six-game conquest of the Utah Jazz in the first round, Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd could not resist needling Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gobert -- perhaps shoveling the last bit of dirt on the Gobert-Donovan Mitchell partnership.
In discussing the challenges of defending the Phoenix Suns' offense -- essentially tied for No. 3 in points per possession during the regular season -- Kidd noted all the different ways the Suns can score.
"This isn't Gobert or Whiteside," Kidd told a scrum of reporters. "These guys can put the ball in the basket."
(While we're here: It is a remarkable achievement of shot-making and turnover avoidance that the Suns ranked so highly in offense given their old-school shot selection and general statistical tendencies. Phoenix ranked dead last in shots at the rim and 25th in 3-point attempts. Yeah, we know that: They are midrange deities. They also ranked 29th in free throw rate and 21st in offensive rebounding, meaning they got no freebies and very few second chances. They were a first-shot, only-shot offense, and almost a league-high 42% of those shots were midrangers. To sniff the No. 1 spot in total offense with that overall profile in the year of our basketball gods 2022 is a triumph in efficiency bordering on the impossible.)
Kidd was ribbing, but he was also onto something.