Originally Published: June 2, 2011

1. Carlisle's Response Key For Mavs In Game 2

Adande By J.A. Adande

MIAMI -- For the record, Rick Carlisle does have feelings. They might not surface among the major storylines of this series, which include Dirk Nowitzki attempting to make good on his second chance at a championship and LeBron James retooling his reputation as a clutch playoff performer, but the Dallas Mavericks coach has suffered his share of heartbreaks and setbacks along the way.

In his first season with the Detroit Pistons, he won the coach of the year award. In his next season, he reached the Eastern Conference finals. Then he was out of a job.

He was in the conference finals again during his first season with the Indiana Pacers … then the next season came the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and that Pacers team would never be the same.

He knows how thin the divide between those we consider winners and losers can be. His Pistons lost the first two games of the 2003 conference finals at home by a total of four points and they couldn't bounce back.

With Indiana in Game 2 of the conference finals the next year, Reggie Miller was on his way to a game-tying layup in the final minute when Tayshaun Prince demonstrated the elasticity of his arms to block the shot.

Carlisle has put in the requisite amount of playoff suffering. He has learned from the postseason classroom.

"Just an overall view of when you get to this point, how challenging it is," Carlisle said. "How you're presented with challenges of opposing great players, difficult situations, difficult venues, all that. But the thing that you learn more than anything is that those challenges are something you have to love, and you have to embrace them. As difficult as things are, you become more resourceful and find ways to be successful."

Carlisle has plenty of challenges on his hands right now. And does he ever need to be resourceful. His Mavs are down one-love to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, and must find a way to win a game in a building where Miami hasn't lost in these playoffs. He must devise ways to enable his team to score against what has been the fiercest defense in the league over the past month.

The Mavericks hired Carlisle because they noticed his players improved at an unmatched rate at his previous two coaching stops. Now comes another element of coaching, the in-series adjustments that mean everything during the playoffs.

"We'll make adjustments, for sure," Carlisle said.

"Like?" he was asked.

"You want to know specifically," he responded.

"Please," the questioner begged.

"We'll be ready for Game 2," was all Carlisle would allow.

No, on the day Shaquille O'Neal retired Carlisle didn't quite nominate himself to take over Shaq's role of adding levity to the Finals off-day media sessions. Carlisle made only 11 3-pointers during his NBA career, but he still had more shooting range as a player than he does emotional range as a coach. He's serious, but that's one reason the team is a more legitimate contender than it was way back in the Don Nelson days.

He'll have to elicit some passion from his players, however, if they are to win what he called "the line of scrimmage." That means the battle for the ball, boxing out and diving on the floor making whatever sacrifice is necessary to get or maintain possession.

The stat the Mavericks kept coming back to was Miami's 16 offensive rebounds.

"If we get some rebounds, get the ball in [Jason] Kidd's hands, I think that should play to our advantage," Nowitzki said.

Even if he's not in charge of rebounding, Kidd said that picking up the pace is on him.

"We've got to get out and run and explore easy baskets," he said. "Then also play in flow and put pressure on their defense."

The Bulls expressed the same desire in the conference finals, and they had one of the fastest players in the league with Derrick Rose, but they still couldn't make it an uptempo game because Miami is so good at getting back on defense.

That means the Mavs can brace for lots of looks at the Heat's half-court defense, the one that held them far below their averages of 99 points and 46 percent shooting during the playoffs.

"They do a good job of rotating and covering up, so we've got to make quick reads, the ball has to move and we have to make plays," Carlisle said.

If the ball has to move it means Nowitzki might have to be more of a facilitator. The Heat are double-teaming him earlier than the Thunder did in the Western Conference finals. They'd rather take their chances with the other shooters than let Nowitzki start dropping those off-balance jumpers on them.

Carlisle also will have to use less zone if the Heat keep outrebounding them and/or continue making 3-pointers as well as they did in Game 1 (11-for-24).

"We have to become more resourceful and more opportunistic, because those have been two traits that have identified who we've been getting to this point," Carlisle said.

"Effective" is a word that could apply to Carlisle's coaching. "Unfortunate" comes to mind as well. Game 2 should give us a good indication of which label will be most reflective after this series.

Dimes past: May 14 | 15 | 16 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | June 1

2. Splint Issue: Nowitzki's Hand Injury

By Tim MacMahon
ESPN Dallas


MIAMI -- Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki's injured finger on his non-shooting hand isn't as sore as he anticipated, giving him hope that he won't have to wear a splint for the remainder of the NBA Finals.

Nowitzki tore the tendon in his left middle finger when he was called for a foul after stripping the ball from Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh with 3:44 remaining in the Mavericks' Game 1 loss Tuesday night.

The finger was bent at an awkward angle above the top knuckle during the injury, which typically takes six weeks to heal. Nowitzki played the remainder of the game after Mavs athletic trainer Casey Smith straightened the finger and did a quick tape job during a stop in play.

"I have this splint on for now," said Nowitzki, whose tendon is detached in his top knuckle. "I think we're going to play around with some other stuff. Try tape, or try a splint from the back so I can feel the ball and not lose grip of the ball.

"We're going to play around with it today in practice, maybe tomorrow in shootaround. By then, I'll have an idea how it feels and how it is to play with the thing. I'll be OK. I'm really not worried. It's not that sore, so it should be OK."

• To read the full story, click here »

3. Wade Watches And Learns -- From Himself

By Michael Wallace


MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade never intended to watch it.

To him, it just didn't register as must-see TV. But as he was flipping through the channels the other day while waiting for the NBA Finals to start, Wade came across a replay of the Miami Heat's run to their 2006 championship.

The run that had his footprints and fingerprints all over it.

It was a rerun of Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals, the game when Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. would simply be shortened to D-Wade, the game when the gap between Kobe Bryant and the league's next-best shooting guard would be narrowed to nearly nonexistent.

Wade never intended to watch the replay of that game as the Heat prepared for what would be their 92-84 victory on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their NBA Finals rematch against the Mavericks.

But LeBron James insisted.

• To read the full story, click here »


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?