Defense first: Avery Johnson or Rick Carlisle?

DALLAS -- Jason Kidd only played a few months under Avery Johnson in the spring of 2008, but he's certain that the defensive mentality that has stamped the Mavericks as a top-five defensive team starts and ends with Rick Carlisle.

Asked what Avery influences remain nearly four years after Mark Cuban fired him following the 2008 first-round playoff loss to New Orleans and Kidd said: "I don’t know. I think it’s a different team, it’s a team that now has been in the top five in defense, which when you talk about Dallas it always was about scoring, so I don’t think there’s not too much of Avery still here. Carlisle has put his stamp on this team and it has helped us win a championship."

Carlisle took a much more diplomatic approach, saying point-blank that Johnson changed the culture in Dallas from one of free-spirited offense to a focus on gritty defense.

"There’s no confusion, Avery changed it and he changed it when he took over in 2005," Carlisle said. "And he got this franchise on a path to a championship by instilling a playoff style of basketball, which meant defense first and then, of course, you’ve got to be a good offensive team as well, but there’s no confusion on that and that should be made very clear."