| 3 years ago||
When Dallas Mavs changed their lineup 2 years ago in the finals people said negative things but it did work... Spo learned from that 2011 finals you can't wait forever to make changes..
|June 10, 2011
DALLAS -- Rick Carlisle smiled and laughed. He couldn't believe what he was being asked, nor was he about to say what he really thought.
And, to think, this question he treated as if it was bordering on offensive was merely an invitation for him to brag about his own performance in Game 4 of the NBA finals, when his series of moves involving players and strategies resulted in the Dallas Mavericks beating the Miami Heat and evening the championship series at 2-2.
"Listen," Carlisle said, "the players play the game."
By the same token, coaches coach, and Carlisle has done a heck of a job all season.
Donnie Nelson, Dallas' president of basketball operations, called Game 4 a coaching masterpiece. He said Carlisle did so many things right, "most of which will not be understood or known." Here are a few that jumped out:
He shook up his starting lineup, promoting struggling backup point guard J.J. Barea and putting defensive-minded DeShawn Stevenson on the bench.
Before tipoff, second-guessers were already saying this indicated panic.
They were comparing it to Johnson switching hotels during Dallas' stay in Miami during the 2006 finals.
With Dallas having played from behind most of the series, it appeared Carlisle wanted the speedy Barea to juice up the offence. It turned out to be more about changing Stevenson's role on defence. Instead of playing Stevenson and Shawn Marion together, Carlisle wanted Stevenson to relieve Marion. It worked out so well that Stevenson played the entire fourth quarter.
Stevenson's role has been among the most flexible under Carlisle, yoyo-ing from starter to deep reserve and back. At the urging of several players, Carlisle put Stevenson back in the lineup for the season finale. He also got the team's leadership to agree to the latest move.
"A great call," Kidd said.
Said Carlisle: "I never had any thought that it could be genius."
He tweaked the rest of his rotation, too, shoving struggling forward Peja Stojakovic to the end of the bench and making Brian Cardinal the primary backup to Dirk Nowitzki.
Stojakovic was a liability the first three games, unable to score enough points to make up for how many he gave up on defence.
The Heat targeted him every time they could. Still, there was always the chance of Stojakovic finding the stroke that went 6 for 6 on three-pointers in the knockout game against the Lakers.
But Carlisle trusted Cardinal and the guy nicknamed "The Custodian" immediately provided the tenacity he wanted by drawing a charge against LeBron James. Cardinal gave Dallas seven quality minutes it needed more than folks realized.
He had to do more juggling because of illness and injury.
Carlisle knew Nowitzki was f!ghting a sinus infection. He had to manage his star's minutes carefully, giving him longer breaks than usual to make sure he'd be available at the end.
He ended up scoring 10 of his 21 points down the stretch.
Nowitzki played 39 minutes, but it was his fewest of the series.
Carlisle also rolled the dice by letting backup centre Brendan Haywood play after missing Game 3 with a hip injury. He was in such obvious pain that after just three minutes on the bench, starter Tyson Chandler declared he was going back in. Carlisle let him go the rest of the game, and he never wore out, providing 13 points and 16 rebounds.
His use of zone defences - when, and which ones - have befuddled the Heat.
"He's just pushing us to the limit," Stevenson said. "We've got guys who want to win and believe in each other and try to do anything to get a win."
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