Tag:Rick Carlisle
Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:54 pm

Even if Mavs win, it's all about the Heat

MIAMI – With the Dallas Mavericks on the verge of an improbable championship in a closeout game on the road against the Heat on Sunday night, the worst part of the equation for them was delivered with those last three words.

“Against the Heat.”

Because no matter how compelling the angle of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd finally getting their rings, no matter the possibility of Dallas’ comeback-strewn, destiny-filled postseason run culminating with a title, and regardless of Mavs owner Mark Cuban spontaneously bursting into flames during the trophy presentation, there’s only one angle capable of trumping all of that.

The Heat. The Heat losing. The Heat failing.

That’s what this is about. That’s what this NBA season has been about since LeBron James crudely announced to a national TV audience that he was leaving Cleveland for Miami. It has been about the Heat – either the beginning of a hastily assembled, store-bought dynasty or the possibility of utter, spectacular failure.

So the prospect of the Mavs clinching the title in Game 6 Sunday night and Nowitzki winning Finals MVP, thus establishing himself as 1(b) to Kobe Bryant’s 1(a) among clutch performers of their generation? The impressive fortress of double-digit comebacks the Mavs have relentlessly constructed during this postseason run? The idea of Cuban, who has been fined at least $1.6 million since buying the Mavs in 2000, celebrating a championship? This year, and only this year, all of it shrinks in comparison to the Heat not winning.

That’s right, not even Cuban – who was famously fined $500,000 in 2002 for saying the NBA’s director of officials, Ed Rush, wasn’t fit to work at a Dairy Queen, and $250,000 for repeated misconduct after the Mavs blew a 2-0 lead in the 2006 Finals and lost to the Heat in six games – will be able to steal the spotlight from LeBron and Dwyane Wade failing to make good on their championship covenant.

Not even the culmination of a riveting, remarkable postseason run for the Mavs – in which they’ve come back from a 16-point deficit on the road against the Lakers and 15-point holes at Oklahoma City and Miami in consecutive rounds – would shield the nation from its obsession with the Heat. Not even Dallas’ unblemished record in postseason closeout games – 3-0 during these playoffs, a six-game winning streak overall – would stop folks from Northeast Ohio to North Carolina to Northern California from standing at the water cooler (or the modern-day version of it, Twitter) and saying, “Do you believe it?!?!? LeBron lost!”

So what’s going to happen? What’s my prediction? Same as it was before the series started: Mavs in seven. So if I’m right, the only force of nature that can delay the conflicting analysis of one team’s accomplishment viewed through the prism of another’s failure is – appropriately enough – the Heat themselves.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:17 pm

Carlisle: Dirk is MVP

NEW YORK – Rick Carlisle was in a giving mood Wednesday night after the Mavericks’ sixth straight victory, awarding the MVP trophy to Dirk Nowitzki and naming Tyson Chandler to the Western Conference All-Star roster. 

The Mavs’ coach, of course, doesn’t have the power to do either – aside from his vote for All-Star reserves, which will be announced Thursday night. But after Nowitzki scored a game-high 29 points in only 32 minutes – on efficient 10-for-16 shooting – you can forgive Carlisle for being a little giddy about recent developments for a team that was sucking wind only a week ago. 

“I sense that he’s building each game on the last and that we’re headed the right direction with this thing,” Carlisle said after the Mavs beat the Knicks 113-97. “And talk about MVP candidates, if you look at what happened to us when he was out, if you look at his plus-minus, I think he’s the number one plus-minus guy in the the entire league. Based on that, he should be the MVP. That means he’s more valuable to our team than any other star is to theirs. And so his presence on the floor and his healthy presence is huge for us.” 

No argument here. That’s why I put Dirk on my Western Conference reserves. But MVP? Sure, the Mavs were 2-7 while Nowitzki was out with a knee injury that only now is “close to 100 percent,” according to Dirk himself. And as for the plus-minus reference, Nowitzki actually is ninth in the NBA at plus-310. He’s first on the Mavs, though – and perhaps leading the league in the Mavs’ interpretation of plus-minus, which can be adjusted based on what specific factors you emphasize. 

Hey, Dirk is good, and that’s good enough for me. 

"Dirk’s a unique guy,” Carlisle said. “There’s nobody who’s worked on developing his game more than he has in the history of this league. I put him up against (Larry) Bird and all these guys who have the great work ethics and reputations as hard workers. There’s a reason the ball goes in the basket. That’s because he’s great and he’s put in the time and the hours.” 

When the conversation turned to Chandler, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds and held Amar’e Stoudemire scoreless in the second half, Carlisle squeezed in one last bit of lobbying before All-Star reserves are announced. 

“Tyson’s an All-Star,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know that he’ll get voted, but he’s an All-Star. And there’s probably three or four other guys in the same boat. He’s truly deserving, has had a great impact on our team, and it may surprise people. He may have a legitimate shot, and he should, because of the effect he’s had on our group, particularly at the defensive end. And what we’re all seeing now is, he’s doing some great things offensively as well. He’s a big part of what we’re doing and I can’t stress that or repeat it enough.” 

Obviously not. But given that only a few weeks ago the Mavs were mired in a six-game losing streak (and seven of eight), Carlisle deserves to blow off a little steam. The next hurdle comes Friday night in Boston against the Celtics, whom the Mavs beat by two points back in November – without Boston having Shaquille O’Neal or Kendrick Perkins.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 12:36 am

Much-needed Dirk could be back Saturday

SAN ANTONIO – Coach Rick Carlisle admitted that Saturday’s game in Memphis could mark the return of Dirk Nowitzki to the Team Formerly Known as the Mavericks

If it is, it’s not a minute too soon. 

The Mavs are lost without Nowitzki, who went through his first contact drills Friday in the strongest sign yet that he is ready to return after a nine-game absence with a sprained right knee. Dallas has lost seven of nine without Dirk, including a pointless 101-89 blowout at the hands of the Spurs

“Our whole team is out of whack,” Shawn Marion said. Nowitzki has been out since Dec. 28 as the day-to-day status of the injury became week-to-week, prompting rival executives to wonder if Nowitzki’s injury was worse than the team has been letting on. 

Those doubts were put to rest Friday, when Nowitzki went through one-on-one contact drills for the first time. Later, on the court before the Spurs game, Nowitzki worked up a decent sweat with an array of half-speed offensive drills. He flexed his knee and winced a couple of times, but other than that, his jumper was still silky smooth. 

The same cannot be said for the Mavs without him. 

“We’re missing that little edge we had when things did happen, when things would go wrong, because we would find a way with that edge to fight over the hump and get these wins,” Marion said. “We’ve got to find a way to get that back right now. Who knows? Dirk could come back and it might come back as well. But it might not.” 

In the third game without Nowitzki, the Mavs lost Caron Butler to a season-ending knee injury, leaving them without two of their top three scorers. They can’t replace Butler without a trade between now and the deadline, but help could be on the way from Dirk. Nowitzki said during the ESPN broadcast Friday night that he was "actually really close." Owner Mark Cuban said after the game Nowitzki would be a game-time decision Saturday night in Memphis – which would seem to be a significant upgrade over day-to-day and week-to-week. 

“I don’t know when he’s going to play,” Carlisle said. “We’ve been very consistent in that. We don’t know. He worked out hard today and we’ve got to see how he feels tomorrow. Tomorrow could be a possibility, but then again maybe not. We can’t mess with that.” 

And quite clearly, the Mavs can’t mess around without Dirk too much longer. 

“It’s going to be good to get a healthy team out there,” Tyson Chandler said. “It’s tough with guys playing out of position and stepping into roles they’re not accustomed to. It’ll be good to get back our team.” And that was exactly the right way to put it, because Dirk is the team.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 5:56 pm

Preseason Primers: Mavericks

It wouldn't be time for another NBA season without the Mavericks feeling like championship contenders. But this time, the feeling is different. This time, there's a palpable belief that the Mavs had better get it done this year or their window will be closed -- for a long time, if not for good.

That's a little drastic. They're still not better than the Lakers, and still might not be able to get past the Spurs in a best-of-7 playoff series. But the Mavs enter training camp as a much better team than the one that lost to San Antonio in the first round a few months ago. With no cap space -- cap space can't score or defend, after all -- Mark Cuban struck out on the major free-agent targets. But the addition of Tyson Chandler certainly will help. Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki know the window is closing, but maybe this is a good spot for them to be in. With all eyes on the Lakers, Celtics, Heat and Magic, maybe the Mavs can quietly be in the mix. If it's possible for Cuban's team to do anything quietly.

Training camp site: Southern Methodist University 

Training camp starts: Sept. 28 

Key additions: Tyson Chandler (trade), Alexis Ajinca (trade), Ian Mahinmi (free agent), Dominique Jones (draft). 

Key subtractions: Erick Dampier (trade), Eduardo Najera (trade), Matt Carroll (trade). 

Likely starting lineup: Jason Kidd, PG; Caron Butler, SG; Shawn Marion, SF; Dirk Nowitzki, PF; Tyson Chandler, C 

Player to watch: Butler. When he’s good, he’s very, very good. And when he’s bad, he’s divisive. 

Chemistry quiz: There shouldn’t be any chemistry issues on a team with so many veterans getting their last realistic shot at a championship. There shouldn’t be. But there could be, especially given that not everyone (Mark Cuban included) was on board with the rotations and substitution patterns Carlisle utilized during another underwhelming (and brief) playoff run. Teams like these, with established players vying for their spot in the pecking order, can come unglued if things don’t go well. (Did we mention Cuban’s recent comments that the Mavs have enough size and depth to beat the Lakers?) 

Injury check: Speedster Rodrigue Beaubois is likely out until November following surgery on his broken left foot. 

Camp battles: Ultimately, Carlisle faces only two starting lineup decisions. But they’re important ones: Whether to start Chandler or Brendan Haywood at center, and whether Butler starts at shooting guard with Marion at the three, or Butler at the three with Beaubois (once he’s healthy) starting in the backcourt with Kidd. Neither one of those decisions will be made in October. But all eyes will be on first-round pick (acquired from Memphis) Dominique Jones, a slasher who has a chance to crack Carlisle’s rotation and give the Mavs the dribble-penetration element they sorely lacked last season. 

Biggest strength: Size and depth. If 6-11 Frenchman Ian Mahinmi stands on a croissant, the Mavs have five legitimate 7-footers: Mahinmi, Nowitzki, Chandler, Haywood and Alexis Ajinca. It can be argued – as Cuban did recently – that Dallas is the team best equipped to combat the Lakers’ twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. First, the Mavs should worry about getting past the Spurs. 

Glaring weakness: Age and miles. The window is closing fast on Kidd, Dirk and Marion, and Jason Terry, all of a sudden, is 33.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com