NBA Finals: Carlisle's tinkering pays dividends
Posted on: June 8, 2011 5:04 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 6:00 am
Posted by Matt Moore
Rick Carlisle looked befuddled at a certain notoriously bombastic reporter's question if he had coached "a hell of a game."
"Who is this guy?" Carlisle asked with a laugh. "Next question."
Truth be told, he would have been right to say he had. In the NBA Finals, neither team wants to blink first. Both teams want to assert their dominance over their opponent and have things played on their terms. Rick Carlisle talked all week about "playing [their] game." But he was the first to blink, the first to crack, the first to make a substantial adjustment, and doing so might have just saved the Mavericks from the brink of elimination, and allowed them to regain momentum.
Carlisle switched his rotation on Tuesday night in Game 4, inserting J.J. Barea into the starting lineup, shifting DeShawn Stevenson into reserve small forward, removing Peja Stojakovic from the rotations, and going to Stevenson down the stretch instead of Marion. Marion was a huge part of the Mavs' success on both sides of the ball, but had also put in heavy minutes trying to score consistently, make plays, and defend LeBron James full-court. It was a strategy that Rick Carlisle said he had to adjust.
"I knew we had to take Marion's minutes down. He can't play 43 minutes."
Instead of balking or sulking at being removed from the starting lineup, Stevenson said he was more than happy to come in and close the game, helping to shut down his long-time nemesis LeBron James (even if Stevenson is not LeBron's). Marion admitted that he wanted to be in the game to close the Heat out but played the "We got the win" card. Having so many guys willing and able to contribute is a luxury for Carlisle, who used it to make a strategic adjustment.
The Heat never adjusted, didn't know how to adjust, and when what they do didn't work, they just tried doing it more and doing the same things harder. Effort goes a long way but you've got to be smart. And while Carlisle deferred and said that what the Mavericks are doing isn't complex, in reality, it's those adjustments that make the difference. They did in Game 4.
And they might end up being the difference in this series.
Tags: 2011 Finals, 2011 Heat-Mavericks, 2011 Mavericks-Heat, 2011 NBA Finals, 2011 NBA Playoffs, Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, Chris Bosh, Corey Brewer, Dallas Mavericks, DeShawn Stevenson, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Erick Dampier, Erik Spoelstra, Finals, Ian Mahinimi, Jamal Magliore, James Jones, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jason Terry, Joel Anthony, Jose Barea, LeBron James, Mario Chalmers, Mark Cuban, Mark Cuban, Miami Heat, Mike Bibby, Mike Miller, NBA Finals, NBA Playoffs, NBA Playoffs, Pat Riley, Peja Stojakovic, Rick Carisle, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas