Dallas Mavericks: Dwane Casey
|Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to discuss getting Dirk Nowitzki more involved in the Mavericks' game plan and much more. |
The Mavs managed to pull themselves back into the playoff picture, thanks in large part to Carlisle pressing buttons to try to squeeze every bit of potential out of this patchwork roster.
“We’re under .500,” Carlisle said dismissively, “so we haven’t done that good of a job.”
That’s humility for the sake of staying in the moment. Carlisle has done a heck of a job to keep this flawed team fighting while constantly fidgeting with the lineup and rotation to give the Mavs the best possible chance of winning.
But a better job than the 2011 title run? C’mon, man.
“Winning a championship is always the best coaching job,” Mark Cuban said. “Period, end of story.”
Maybe that’s simplifying things too much, but that was a historically excellent coaching job that Carlisle and his staff did during the 2011 postseason, which started with nobody taking the Mavs seriously as contenders and ended with a championship parade in downtown Dallas.
Think about the gauntlet the Mavs had to get through to win that title. They beat Kobe Bryant’s two-time defending champion Lakers, sweeping arguably the best coach in pro sports history into retirement. They gave Kevin Durant’s Thunder a clutch clinic to delay what could be a decade of Western Conference dominance for OKC. And they beat LeBron James’ Heat, a feat that might not be accomplished in a playoff series for quite some time, if ever, depending on whether the NBA’s premier player opts to stay in Miami for the rest of his career.
That’s a miraculous run by a lone-star team that was a popular first-round upset pick.
There were plenty of examples of coaching genius by Carlisle and his staff – headlined by two assistants, defensive coordinator Dwane Casey and offensive coordinator Terry Stotts, who were hired away as head coaches.
Start with the psychological wisdom of owning the Mavs’ 23-point collapse after Game 4 in Portland. This wasn’t just an empty it’s-always-the-coach’s-fault declaration. Carlisle made a point to fall on the sword for failing to make adjustments to get the ball out of Brandon Roy’s hands during the Blazers guard’s spectacular fourth quarter, an admission that reinforced a tone of accountability in the Mavs’ locker room and prevented a potentially catastrophic meltdown from having a carryover effect.
That was the last time during those playoffs that Carlisle’s strategy was questioned. Heck, the Mavs lost only three more games during that run.
How about the decision to dust off Corey Brewer when Game 1 in Los Angeles seemed to be getting away from the Mavs? Brewer, a benchwarmer on that team, earned every penny Cuban paid him during his high-energy, high-impact eight minutes that turned around that game and changed that series against the Lakers.
One of the primary reasons the Mavs were able to sweep a team practically nobody gave them a chance of beating was because of their success with an unconventional lineup. With Brendan Haywood serving as the defensive backbone in this particular lineup, Dirk Nowitzki and a few second-unit scoring threats (Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic) lit up the Lakers. Phil Jackson never figured out a way to slow down the Barea/Nowitzki high pick-and-pop with Terry and Stojakovic spacing the floor with scorching 3-point shooting.
The defensive game plan that turned James, the NBA’s most dominant force, into a confused, timid player in the Finals was just as genius. Part of that was the bold move of starting Barea at shooting guard after the Heat took a 2-1 series lead, a decision that ensured that DeShawn Stevenson could come off the bench with fresh legs and ferocity to spell Shawn Marion as head of the snake against James.
We could go on and on. Suffice to say it’s silly to think that a fight for .500 – no matter how flawed the team, no matter that a Coach of the Year case can be made for Carlisle if the Mavs make the playoffs – is more impressive than one of the greatest coaching jobs in NBA history.
Former Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano, according to NBA coaching sources, is poised to join Stotts' staff in Portland as opposed to coming to Dallas.
That means Triano and Los Angeles Lakers-bound Steve Clifford, two highly regarded assistants that sources say Carlisle was eyeing, are off the market.
Former New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns assistant coach Phil Weber remains a Mavs candidate, sources said.
Yet the widely held assumption in coaching circles is that Carlisle wants to hire an assistant coach with head-coaching experience after the departures of Dwane Casey (to Toronto) and Stotts (to Portland) during the last two offseasons.
Two coaching sources said late Thursday that a new name to watch in the Mavs' search, who fulfills the head-coaching prerequisites, is Jim O'Brien, who replaced Carlisle in Indiana in the 2007 offseason.
The Trail Blazers on Tuesday hired Terry Stotts, who had served as the Mavs' offensive coordinator since Carlisle arrived in Dallas. Ex-Mavs defensive coordinator Dwane Casey was hired as the Toronto Raptors' head coach last summer.
Carlisle strongly recommended Stotts, who has a 114-158 record in parts of four seasons as the head coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks. The Mavs will miss Stotts' experience and offensive expertise, but Carlisle was ecstatic to see his friend get another chance as a head coach.
"A great hire for a great franchise," texted Carlisle, who was an assistant in Portland early in his coaching career. "Terry was a big part of our championship success in Dallas, and we wish him the very best. He has the great fortune of going to work for Paul Allen, who, along with Mark Cuban, is one of the best owners in the NBA."
The other three finalists are 16-year NBA assistant Elston Turner, Steve Clifford, who spent the last six seasons at Orlando, and Kaleb Canales, the 34-year-old former video assistant who took over on an interim basis after Nate McMillan was fired in March. Canales went 8-15 and has received strong endorsements from the Blazers' players.
The report says the candidates will interview again next week in Portland. Stotts, with a 114-168 record in four seasons as coach of the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, is the only one candidate with head coaching experience, with the exception of Canales' stint this past season.
Stotts was Rick Carlisle's top assistant last season after Dwane Casey left following the championship season to take over as head coach of the Toronto Raptors.
Last week Carlisle gave Stotts a ringing endorsement, telling the Oregonian, "Of all the coaches presently in play, Terry is by far the best available."
Can the Mavericks get a little credit for LeBron James’ failures in last season’s Finals now?
Maybe, just maybe, the Mavs had more to do with James’ pedestrian performances than the pressure of the moment.
|Ben & Skin have had enough of the fake Miami fans celebrating LeBron's first title. |
Never mind all the times he carried the Cavaliers to playoff wins. How about him dominating crunch time in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals against the Chicago Bulls? You think he suddenly got scared of the final five minutes of games in the Finals?
“That’s a complete insult to us,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said during his Friday morning appearance on ESPN’s First Take.
Or do you think the Mavs’ coaching staff came up with a phenomenal plan and the Dallas players executed it excellently?
“It's amazing how nobody wants to give the Mavs credit for playing some amazing defense last year!!!” Shawn Marion tweeted after listening to some of the talk before last night’s Finals clincher. “We earn that ring!!!”
Reached Friday, Marion said he didn’t need to elaborate on the subject, adding only that his championship ring is really heavy.
Marion, perhaps the most underappreciated defender in the league, earned his ring in large part by giving LeBron precious little room to work. Same goes for DeShawn Stevenson, the defender LeBron saw most often after Marion.
As well as Marion and Stevenson played, they didn’t stop LeBron one-on-one. They thrived with the support of their on-a-string teammates with Tyson Chandler serving as the backbone in a complicated concept designed by Rick Carlisle, Dwane Casey, Monte Mathis and the rest of the Dallas coaching staff.
“Are we in a zone? What type of zone are we in? How are we matching up? What kind of rotations are we in?” Cuban said, describing the thought process James had to go through every time he touched the ball. “Making him think made them pass the ball around the perimeter, which gave us a chance to adjust.
“Now they’re smarter, they’re a better team. They deserved to win this year. But that’s the way we played it. So it wasn’t just LeBron. LeBron actually played it right more often than not. He made the right pass to the right guy, who didn’t make the right play. And that’s exactly what we wanted. We wanted to get the ball out of their hands and into the hands of somebody else.”
If you insist on just chalking James’ ’11 Finals failures up to him choking, feel free to continue ignoring the facts. Just don’t forget to call the Dallas team that defended him so well champions.
Chandler, now with the Knicks, presented the ring to Casey before Tuesday's game in Toronto. Casey was an assistant coach and Chandler the starting center for the Dallas Mavericks team when they beat Miami in the NBA finals.
Following the player introductions, the scoreboard played a video of Mavericks highlights and messages of congratulation to Casey from Dallas players Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd, and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.
Chandler and Casey then walked to center court and embraced. Casey was joined by his wife and children and presented with the diamond studded ring.
Quickly, it's back home to face the rested Toronto Raptors, a team that will be well-prepared under the leadership of former Mavs assistant Dwane Casey. Dallas will drag whatever momentum it can from its improved play in OKC as it looks to avoid its first 0-4 start in five seasons.
"We're making progress for sure, but we have a ways to," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Right now, the breaks are going against us and we've got to personalize this and we've got to break through, and it's work, it's work."
The prime work is on the defensive end. Wednesday's practice almost solely focused on that end and the Thunder still shot better than 58 percent. The Mavs were a top 10 defense in field-goal percentage throughout last season. Through three games of this season, Dallas ranks dead last in the NBA (51.8 percent) and it is the only team in the league to allow better than 50 percent shooting.
Somewhat appropriate then that Casey, the defensive-minded assistant who called sets for the Mavs, is in the house. And interesting that the Raptors, through two games, rank second offensively in field-goal shooting (49.4 percent). Defensively, Casey's Raptors have held their two opponents under .420 field-goal shooting. The Mavs are shooting an abysmal 40.7 percent.
Records: Raptors (1-1); Mavs (0-3)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Rick Carlisle is desperately trying to light a fire under the struggling Lamar Odom. The versatile forward is just 4-of-27 from the floor in the first three games and seems completely out of rhythm. Carlisle put the onus on himself to expedite Odom's adjustment from the triangle offense he ran for years with the Los Angeles Lakers to the Mavs' flow offense that finally showed some sparks Thursday night. Odom played just 17 minutes off the bench at OKC. Look for a continued effort to get Odom off the ground.
Key matchup: Delonte West/Vince Carter/Jason Kidd/Jason Terry vs. DeMar DeRozan
Defensive struggles against young, athletic wings is no secret. The third-year shooting guard out of USC is picking up where he left off last season. In two games, he's averaging 18.5 points and shooting 55.2 percent from the field. He doesn't take many 3-pointers, but he will step back and let it rip -- he's made two of the three he's taken. Everybody knows this kid has serious hops and he's growing an all-around game to go with it and that makes him an extremely dangerous cover for a Mavs team coming off an emotionally draining camp in Oklahoma City and one in which required heavy workloads for the first time.
Injuries: Raptors - F Linas Kleiza (knee) is out; Aaron Gray (rapid heart rate) is questionable. Mavs - none.
Up next: Mavs at Minnesota Timberwolves, 6 p.m., Sunday
DALLAS -- Rick Carlisle will remind anybody who listens that the commitment to defense was the primary reason the Dallas Mavericks won a championship last season.
Tyson Chandler, the defensive backbone and emotional leader, is the New York Knicks’ new big man. Defensive coordinator Dwane Casey is the Toronto Raptors’ head coach.
Now Carlisle has to figure out how to fit in several new pieces, adjusting to suit the skill sets of Lamar Odom and Vince Carter, while maintaining the same attitude and disposition that allowed the Mavs to rank eighth in defensive efficiency last season.
|Ben and Skin welcome new Mavs guard Delonte West to the Metroplex and promptly get schooled on Texas Pete hot sauce. |
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson points out that Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion were never known as defensive stoppers until the Mavs’ title run. That pair of veterans played key roles in containing superstars such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, especially in crunch time during the playoffs.
That, Nelson said, is a credit to Carlisle. That’s why Nelson thinks the Mavs will still be a stingy defensive team with Brendan Haywood as the Mavs’ only true big man.
“That’s what coaching is all about,” Nelson said. “If anybody can do it, Rick Carlisle can.”
Nelson, who can’t think of another coach as creative with his lineups, with the possible exception of his dad Don Nelson, is just as confident that Carlisle will maximize the Mavs’ immense offensive potential. It will be especially interesting to see the variety of ways that Carlisle utilizes Odom’s point forward skills.
Perhaps the most important thing Carlisle did last season was getting a veteran team to buy into a selfless style. He credits Marion for setting that tone by embracing a bench role until Caron Butler’s knee injury forced a lineup shuffle.
Now Carlisle has to get a title-defending team, with a couple of high-profile additions, to buy in again.
“It’s not just the definition of roles, it’s the acceptance of roles,” Carlisle said. “You can define roles all you want, but if you have guys that are hesitant or unwilling to accept them, then you’re going to have problems.”
Carlisle doesn’t envision problems. He embraces challenges.
“I’m not looking for it to be easy,” Carlisle said. “I promise you that.”
The young man certainly filled up the stat sheet in an eventful 13 minutes, 10 seconds: 10 points (4-of-6 FGs, 2-of-3 on 3s), four rebounds, including one leaping high to snatch it from 6-foot-11 Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls.
The Dallas Mavericks' starting shooting guard got off to another slow start as he had trouble sticking with Steve Nash and fighting through hard screens on the Suns' difficult pick-and-rolls. Coach Rick Carlisle had even sent J.J. Barea to the scorer's table just a couple of minutes in before rethinking the substitution.
When Beaubois did come out, he, Jason Kidd and assistant coach Dwane Casey huddled on the court during a timeout and engaged in an animated discussion about the events that had just unfolded.
"Great lesson," Kidd said. "He's going to go through his ups and downs. This is his training camp, preseason all wrapped into one. We're going to live with his mistakes and at the same time we have to stay positive with him and help him through those times when he's making a mistake or two."
So this time Beaubois' limited minutes were not a product of a Carlisle quick hook. In fact, the coach stuck with him after Beaubois picked up three fouls in the opening 1:58 of the third quarter to give him four for the game. It was a shame. The 6-foot-2 speedster had just started to make a real impact on the game, challenging the elder Nash with quick, shifty drives to the hole where he laid one in, then dropped in a 22-foot jumper followed by a3-pointer for seven points before five minute had elapsed in the period.
"I love the way he played he played in the second half. We got off to a very difficult start. He got off to a difficult start to the game," Carlisle said. "And the beginning of the second half, how does a young player respond to that? Is he tentative or does he play and get more aggressive? He hit three big shots for us, a couple of them were late [shot] clock, he made three tough defensive plays and his fifth foul was a hard, playoff foul.
"He's going through the ups and downs of playoff basketball. This is the best simulation of a playoff game you can have."
The fifth foul, a hard chop that sent Grant Hill to the free throw line also sent Beaubois, who said he tired while battling defensively in the post on several occasions, to the bench for good with still 6:37 left to go in the third quarter, a burgeoning game nipped in the bud. Beaubois showed a face of frustration during the string of three fouls as he tried to unsuccessfully fight through screens.
"I have to be careful. Sometimes they don't call it, but like [Sunday] this kind of foul they called it on me," Beaubois said. "When I see that they are going to call it, I just need to change the way I do it and when I am in that situation I have to be careful. Evey game I'm learning, so I just need to keep learning."
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle tried to argue that he's the one that should have been dealt the T, and Beaubois pleaded his case as well, even pointing at Carlisle, but to no avail. At that moment, Beuabois made the slow walk to the bench as though he knew his night was done.
And it was. After a blazing start, scoring seven of the Mavs' first 11 points in the opening 4:28, Beaubois exited the first quarter at the 5:01 mark and didn't return until the start of the third quarter.
He missed a 3-pointer, penetrated the lane and dropped a pass to Tyson Chandler for a layup and then drove again and floated in 3-foot teardrop at the 10:32 mark. It was his first and last basket of the half.
Then came the fouls and that was that.
Roddy's line: 13 minutes, nine points (4-of-10 FGs, 1-of-4 3 FGs), one assist, one turnover, one blocked shot, two fouls and one technical foul. Not exactly the stuff of legends.
Beaubois has not logged more than 18 minutes in any of the last seven games and six have been 15 minutes or less. Perhaps that's only startling because in his first three games back after missing 54 games with a broken foot, he played 21, 19 and 22 minutes and, as Dirk Nowitzki said, the sky seemed the limit.
Recently, Beaubois has opened the first and third quarters and that's it. After Wednesday's 93-92 loss to the New Orleans Hornets, Beaubois was asked if he is managing to be patient.
"I guess. I don't have any choice," Beaubois said. "For sure, I want to play, but I just came back and the guys played great before that."
Beaubois made 3-of-5 shots in the first quarter. But, after sitting out the final 17 minutes of the first half and then halftime, he missed 4-of-5 shots in the third quarter.
"It's tough because you kind of get out of a rhythm, but that's the way it is," Beaubois said. "I have to keep working to find a way to stay on the court. I have to continue to work on my conditioning. I'm not 100 percent, but I am better than when I started."
Before the third quarter started, Mavs assistant coach Dwane Casey, the defensive architect, was giving Beaubois instructions. Beaubois did not look at Casey as he spoke.
Asked if he believes his defense is preventing Carlisle from playing him more, Beaubois said, "Ask him. I don't know."
Dwane Casey, who filled in while Carlisle skipped the one-game road trip while recovering from minor knee surgery, can be a heck of a head coach.
“I can’t believe he’s not a head coach in this league, but everyone’s loss is our gain," Carlisle said. "Everyone that’s passed him up probably wishes that they would have hired him. He does a great job for us and he’ll be back doing that at some point.”
Casey, the mastermind behind the Mavs’ impressive defensive improvement, had a 53-69 record as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach from June 2005 to January 2007. He was fired after a 20-20 start in his second season, a decision that seems dumber by the day.
The Timberwolves went 12-30 the rest of that season. Their best record since then has been 24-58.
Casey has been considered a candidate for a handful of head coaching jobs since joining the Mavs’ staff after Carlisle was hired. The Mavs’ road win against the Thunder despite Dirk Nowitzki’s knee injury won’t count on his record, but it ought to remind owners and general managers around the NBA that Casey can coach.
The Mavs entered the quarter tied at 56-56 and knowing Dirk Nowitzki would not return due to a knee injury he sustained early in the second quarter. Marion, a career starter who has accepted a reserve role this season, started the period at power forward, and he took over the game with an array of running hooks, swooping finger rolls and turnaround jumpers while pounding the glass.
Marion scored 12 of his 20 points from between the 10:44 mark when he gave the Mavs a 62-61 lead, and the 4:27 mark when his lay up put the Mavs up 76-73. Scoring half his team's p0ints in the period allowed Dallas to stay with the Thunder in what could have been a major momentum turner for the home team.
"Shawn Marion had a heck of a third quarter and I think he had a flashback to his All-Star years," acting coach Dwane Casey said. "That quarter was huge."
Marion hit 5-of-8 shots and also brought down eight of his nine rebounds, two on the offensive glass. Afterward, he typically deflected the individual spotlight and shined it on the team.
"Oh man, we wanted to get this win," Marion said. "Everybody stepped up, got aggressive on both ends of the floor and made it happen. We got stops when we needed to and hit shots when we needed. We helped each other. That was the biggest emphasis. Everybody was feeding off each other and helping each other."
Marion notched his second 20-point performance of the season and in doing so snapped a mini-shooting slump in which he was 4-of-14 for 14 points in the previous two games. He tied his season-high of 15 shot attempts, hitting that mark for a third time, and he made season-high 10 field goals for a second time.
He did it all while tying his season-high in minutes with 32, which is what he averaged last season, his first with the Mavs.
Activated in his place is 7-foot, fourth-string center Alexis Ajinca.
Assistant coach Dwane Casey is at the controls tonight as Rick Carlisle watches back in Dallas recuperating from arthroscopic knee surgery.
"The whole purpose [of the zone] is to shut down the lane and make them shoot tough, challenged 3s," said Mavs assistant coach Dwane Casey, who runs the defense and will serve as acting head coach for tonight's game against the Thunder as Rick Carlisle recuperates from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Oklahoma City does a good job of getting in the lane but ranks as the worst 3-point shooting team in the league (32.2 percent). Dallas has grown so comfortable with its zone defense that it will stick with it even when the opponent hits a couple beyond the arc, which is typically the red flag most teams need to slide back into man-to-man. Not the Mavs.
"The No. 1 thing is the confidence," Casey said. "Two years ago, even last year, they [an opponent] hits a couple 3s and guys start looking cross-eyed and say, 'Hey, let’s get out of this.' You’ve got to have confidence to stay in it."
The statistics from this season's first matchup on Nov. 24 in Oklahoma City suggest the Mavs were fortunate to come away with a 111-103 victory, a game they won by suffocating the Thunder down the stretch. Oklahoma made 6-of-15 (40 percent) from beyond the arc and shot 48.2 percent overall, besting Dallas in both categories, and shooting well above the 43.4 percent Dallas is allowing on the season, second-best in the NBA.
The Mavs would prefer to force the Thunder into more long-range shots, such as the 31 Miami took a week ago or the 29 Orlando launched the next night.
Dallas is giving up 36.2 percent from beyond the arc, a mark that ranks just 14th in the league, but Casey said that's part of the sacrifice of playing zone. They might give up a few more 3s, but it's paying dividends by making it harder to get to the rim as evidenced by Dallas' stellar overall defensive field goal percentage.
"You want to protect your paint. That’s your mantra," Casey said. "Our defense against the 3-point shot has suffered a little bit because of that, but our 2-point defensive field goal percentage has improved with that philosophy in mind and having confidence in it, and guys are committed to it. As a coach, you can have all the philosophies you want, but if your players don’t buy into it and believe in it and want to execute it, nothing’s going to work."
|Rolondo Blackman joins Ben and Skin to talk about the streaking Mavs and the pressure a five-day break puts on the team. |
In Durant's career, he's averaged fewer than 20 points a game against just two teams -- Dallas (18.7) and Orlando (17.6), but he's played more than twice as many games against the Mavs (11) as the Magic (five). His career field goal percentage is below 40 percent against only two teams, the same two: 37.4 percent (68-of-182) against the Mavs; 37.0 percent (30-of-81) against the Magic.
Last season was even worse against Dallas for the amazing Durant. He shot just 31.7 percent (26-of-82) from the floor while averaging 22.5 points -- nearly eight below his season average -- and 4.5 turnovers.
But as the Mavs (23-5) head to Oklahoma City (21-10) on Monday night for a second time this season, the only game Dallas remembers is the last one. Durant scored 32 points and was 12-of-20 from the field. The Mavs won, 111-103, with tenacious fourth-quarter defense, but the league's leading scorer had finally done some damage.
"He gets his shots from such a variety of fashion, from 3, from 2, in transition," Mavs guard Jason Terry said. "What we've got to do is make it tough on him. Defensively make him work and on offense we've got to put some pressure on him and make him play some defense, get him tired a little bit."
"Denver threw everything at him but the kitchen sink," said Dwane Casey, the Mavs' defensive coordinator who will handle the head coaching duties Monday night with Rick Carlisle sidelined after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week. "We've got to be creative, [use] different matchups and different looks for a guy like that. Because once a guy like that gets going, it's hard to turn him off. Not only that, he's a very willing passer and you've got guys like [James] Harden, [Russell] Westbrook, [Jeff] Green that can jump up and hit you for 20.
"We have to make sure we are exact on what we want to do on his isos [isolations], on his post-ups, on his catch-and-shoots. Giving him different looks is the most important thing."
Mavs center Tyson Chandler had a little something to do with the Mavs' fourth-quarter defense in the first game that limited Durant to 3-of-7 from the floor in the final period with two baskets coming in the final half-minute, when the game was securely in the Mavs' hands.
Chandler also got to see Durant up close during the summer when he was Durant's teammate on the gold medal-winning Team USA at the World Championships. Chandler was asked if he discovered any secrets to defending Durant.
"I really tried. I watched him and watched him and watched him, but as much as he works, he works on things that he feels he's not good at to become great at," Chandler said. "So he doesn't have many weak spots. He's 6-11 (he's officially listed at 6-foot-9), can handle the ball like a guard, shoots like a 2 and has the size of a big man minus the weight. And he knows how to get fouls, too. So he's a very versatile, all-around player."
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