Since the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship two seasons ago, things have been anything but smooth in Big D. The Mavs exited the playoffs in the first round last year and this year they will be lucky to even get into the postseason as they sit five games out of the eighth spot. The fight for that final spot in the Western Conference Playoff race will be one of the biggest storylines during the second half of the NBA season. Right now it belongs to the upstart, exciting Houston Rockets led by Jeremy Lin and James Harden. Normally having a team as battle tested as the Mavs lurking behind could make it tough for a young team like the Rockets to hold them off but Dallas lost their identity when they decided to dismantle their championship roster. It’s time for a new plan in Big D.
Rick Carlisle joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Chuck Cooperstein to talk about the disappointing loss to the Lakers over the weekend and how much it meant, how much different he thinks this season would be had Dirk Nowitzki been healthy all year, what other idea he has come up with to try to send a different message to his team, and if the plan remains to limit Nowitzki’s minutes.
On the disappointing loss to the Lakers over the weekend given how much it meant:
“It was disappointing. I didn’t like the way that we handled the game as a whole. That 5-0 run to start the quarter should’ve amounted to more, instead they responded with a 6-0 spurt. It was just that kind of game. Disappointing but great experience for our younger guys, but beyond that I don’t take much positive from it.”
How much different things would be for the Mavericks had they had Dirk Nowitzki the entire season:
“I haven’t thought about the comparisons between last year and this year but there’s no doubt that had he been healthy from the beginning that things would be different, but that’s not how the cards were laid out. We’re going to play this thing out, we’re going to keep attacking, we’re going to stay aggressive and we’re going to keep fighting. There is no other way to approach this thing. 27 games left and a lot is still left to be determined.”
Is there any place you turn for a different message to your team?
“There’s all kinds of things you can do. You can look at quote books, you can go on the internet and peruse and find things that are motivation type things. I depend on my staff to help me with those kinds of situations, but beyond everything this is a group of guys that I believe still feel they have plenty to prove and feel the season is not over. It’s important for us to keep fighting and to come out of this with a winning record and get into the playoffs if we possibly can. We just have to keep going.”
Whether the plan is still limiting Nowitzki’s minutes even though he played so many in the Lakers game over the weekend:
“If we have to run him up to 35 or 36 minutes then we will. A national TV game as you know is a longer game because timeouts are probably a minute longer. That helps a lot. You can, if you rest a guy twice in a half, you can get a guy like that through a game okay. We got Dirk that second rest when it was 90-90 and we came up dry three or four times in a row when he was on the bench. Had we been able to get a little bit of a lead we could’ve maybe bought him another minute which would’ve been great. It wasn’t in the cards.”