This is not an image we’re used to seeing. There are plenty of recent NBA playoff series that stand out in my mind. Lakers-Suns had that beauty, so many Suns-Spurs battles, even Cleveland-Boston last year, but the one that sticks out the most is the Mavericks-Spurs 7-gamer in ’06. Six of those games went down to the final minute with so many incredible basketballers making incredible plays on both sides.
Head Coach Rick Carlisle joined the Mavericks this season looking to recapture the swagger of that ’06 Dallas team that went to the Finals. The Mavs were solid, but unspectacular, throughout most of this season, and then, something clicked. I’m not sure if it’s simply their veteran instincts kicking in or maybe they were underrated, much like their coach was in Detroit and Indiana. Either way, Carlisle has the Mavs playing their best ball of the season headed in to the second round versus Denver. Carlisle joined The Ticket in Dallas to discuss what it meant to close out the Spurs on the road, what Dirk Nowitzki achieved in round one, and the differences between San Antonio and Denver.
On winning the series on the road:
“It gives a little more validation that you were the better team. Winning on the road in the playoffs is so difficult, just look at what’s happened here over the past 8 or 9 years. So I was happy for the guys on that note… I think [my players] felt they earned the victory and we feel like we’re a dangerous team moving forward.”
On how the Spurs dealt with Nowitzki:
“One of the things you saw in this series was that Dirk Nowitzki is not just a great scorer, he’s a great all around player… Dirk showed tremendous patience as the series went along, he adjusted to a lot of these [defensive schemes]… The defining moments of guy’s careers can come in unusual ways and I think one of the defining aspects of Dirk’s career was this series. He really let the game come to him and he made guys better.”
On playing the Nuggets compared to the Spurs:
“This is a completely different type of team, much more dynamic athletically and deeper. Look, they wiped us out during the year; we were 0-4 against them. We had a couple close games, a couple games we could have, probably should have won, but they’ve been no fluke this year.”