DALLAS - With the start of the NBA playoffs rapidly approaching, teams will be evaluating the best lineup combinations to stick to before they tipoff for their respective Game 1 matchup. The Dallas Mavericks certainly are no exception.
For the Mavericks, there has been a lack of results with Josh Richardson playing alongside the starting group.
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle isn't set on sticking with the same lineup every night. That includes keeping Richardson in the starting lineup in the backcourt alongside Luka Doncic.
“I think everything’s fluid," Carlisle said prior to the Mavericks' victory over the Heat.
Richardson didn't quite see it the same way as Carlisle when asked about potential 'fluidity' with the starting lineup.
“I don’t anticipate fluidity or any of that, but it is what it is,” Richardson said.
Of course, it's expected that Richardson, like any NBA player or professional athlete, is going to have confidence in themselves and portray that in their post-game interview answers.
Simply put, Richardson is going to need to raise his game if he wants to keep his starting job ... which didn’t happen immediately during Dallas’ Tuesday night matchup with Miami.
Richardson was not getting the job done against the Heat in the early stages. He finished the first quarter with just two points and an otherwise entirely empty stat-line. Meanwhile, the Mavericks were outscored by a 7-point margin with him on the floor.
Carlisle opted to play Josh Green for the entirety of the second quarter with Richardson not seeing the floor altogether. Green provided a major boost with his hustle play and the Mavericks outscored the Heat by 18 points during this stretch.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that Richardson received extended run. With the game already out of hand, he scored 11 of his 17 points during this stretch and ultimately logged 22:40 total in playing time.
It was a genuinely rough 12-game stretch in April for Richardson. He averaged a single-month low of 10.9 points per game while converting at just a 31.4% clip from beyond the arc.
That level of play is simply unacceptable for an NBA starter, especially given how important it is for the Mavericks to surround Luka Doncic with reliable shooting options. Beyond just having Green as a choice, Tim Hardaway Jr. has gone above-and-beyond, proving to be a strong option while Jalen Brunson also thrives alongside Doncic.
The top priority for the Mavericks is to surround Doncic with enough shooting to either enable him to do what he does best with the basketball in his hands, or make defenses pay for trapping and double-teaming.
Richardson's underwhelming shooting does not help in that regard, but the ability to play off-the-catch that Hardaway Jr. and Brunson possess are superior fits. If they are not viewed as options to start, then the focus shifts to Green.
Like Richardson, Green may not be able to bring a boost in the shooting department either. His embrace of doing the dirty work while accepting a complementary offensive role could very well make him more valuable than Richardson, though.
During the Mavs’ Saturday night game with the Wizards, Richardson was having an awful game in that one as well, and Washington led by eight points at the end of the third quarter. Richardson was benched for the entire fourth quarter in favor of Trey Burke, and the Mavs ended up coming back and winning that game, 125-124.
Will the Mavericks take the next step and make a change to their starting lineup instead of waiting until they’re down to make the change in-game? That remains to be seen. Regardless, it will be something to monitor as the situation appears to be trending in that direction.
The Dallas Mavericks return to action on Thursday when they take on the Brooklyn Nets at the AmericanAirlines Center.