Posts Tagged ‘Dalllas Mavericks’

Pushing All The Right Buttons

MIAMI — When quizzed about his packing habits for the final stanza of The Finals, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle wisely put the brakes on sharing too much.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for all of you,” he told us Saturday. “I feel like I’ve gotten to know you well. But I don’t believe at this point I’m ready to share the number of pairs of underwear I packed. I just don’t know that that’s the right way to go.”

That’s another move Carlisle has gotten right during this series. The coaches have been reduced to bit players, for the most part, courtesy of all the other headline-stealing issues surrounding this Mavericks-Heat matchup.

But after five games, it’s clear that Carlisle is pushing all the right buttons. Tweaking his starting lineup, J.J. Barea for DeShawn Stevenson, sparked the Mavericks to back-to-back wins. Subtle shifts to where the Mavericks’ offense is initiated from has helped solve the Heat’s vaunted defense. And with Brendan Haywood injured, Carlisle has tapped both Ian Mahinmi and Brian Cardinal for crucial minutes at the most critical moments of the season. And Carlisle’s game-management abilities have always been held in the highest regard by league insiders.

“Well, I think he’s pushed the right buttons I think all season long,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “He’s challenged us in ways.  Sometimes he’s backed off.  Sometimes he’s letting J[ason]Kidd run the show.  Sometimes he feels like things are not going the way he wants to and he’s clamping down a little more.  So I think that was the challenge the first two years, to find a good mix between playcalls and freedom and still play enough defense to win.  And I just think he found a good mix and he found all the right buttons to motivate us every single night to get to this spot.”

Meticulous attention to detail and tireless preparation are not mutually exclusive traits of Carlisle and his staff. Still, the maneuvering has landed them here, 48 minutes away from claiming the Larry O’Brien trophy. Whatever Mavericks’ video coordinator Mike Shedd is showing in those film sessions is on the money.

“I think every series, every time you go through a game, win or lose, you have to look at the film,” Nowitzki said. “You adjust.  Sometimes it’s major things, sometimes it’s minor things the media doesn’t even pick up.  It might be little coverages.  So I think every coach goes back after a game and adjusts, and we’ve done good so far.  I think the major change was obviously starting J.J.”

A reporter tried to coax Carlisle into admiring his own handy work after the Mavericks’ Game 4 win, but he refused to bite.

“Who is this guy?” an amused Carlisle responded.

You can forget about Carlisle patting himself on the back. That won’t happen, even if his team finds a way to finish this series tonight or even in a Game 7.

If the Mavericks win it all, Carlisle won’t have to say a word anyway.