Wednesday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans is clear evidence that Rick Carlisle has to be an evil laboratory somewhere in the where he spends his time crunching out equations and running simulations trying to find the most optimal starting lineup.
Charts full of stats and trends like the experts at Draftkings and Fanduel use on a daily basis because what Carlisle is able to constantly do with this Mavericks roster is nothing short of remarkable. Missing 4 of his starters on the tail end of a back to back game on the road wasn’t challenging enough for Carlisle to help coach the Mavericks to their 21st victory of the season, a perfect example of Carlisle doing more with less.
Now the New Orleans Pelicans(11-23) aren’t a great team and not nearly where many people (including myself) thought they would be in the Western Conference Standings but that doesn’t diminish the Mavs win. It’s hard enough to go on the road and win on the second night of a back to back much less when your team went to double overtime the night before and are forced to rest 4 of your veteran starters. Well for the second time this year that’s exactly what the Mavericks did as they did something similar against the Houston Rockets earlier on in the season.
The likes of Raymond Felton, Dwight Powell and Javale McGee stepped up in huge ways to lead the Mavs to a W. Now let’s think about that sentence for a second, Felton, Powell and McGee…..Felton, Powell & McGee? The same Javale McGee that’s a former Shaqtin-A-Fool champion? The same Raymond Felton that many of us called fat and washed and were begging to have cut or traded no less than a year ago? The same Dwight Powell that…well I can’t say anything really bad about Powell except he’s not well-known outside of DFW and was considered just another thrown in player in the Rondo trade.
Chandler Parsons was the only Mavs starter to play against the Pelicans and while he was great in the first half scoring 19 points he was very quiet in the second half. Understandably so as the Mavs can’t push his minutes too much and he himself had a bit of a hip injury the night before, but you get my point.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Rick Carlisle is able to pull a W out of his magical hat every now and then with the B team, after all we all know he’s a great coach, but the consistency at which he does it even with the starting lineup is astonishing. Looking at Dallas’ starting lineup consisting of Pachulia, Nowitzki, Parsons, Matthews and D-Will is a good lineup full of great chemistry and great cohesion. However, it’s probably one of the least athletic starting lineups in the NBA and it forces Carlisle to play at the highest level of chess game in and game out. The margin of error for the Mavs is minimal but Carlisle is able to roll with it and maximize the window of opportunity.
Managing a veteran roster’s minutes as well as the number of players that are coming off of major injuries with a roster that seems to overhaul year after year is a job very few coaches would welcome. Luckily for the Mavs Rick Carlisle seems to embrace the challenge and loves smart players who care about the team over their individual successes. That’s why this Mavericks team works as beautifully as it does.
Personally I’d put Carlisle right up there with the great Gregg Popovich on the coaching pyramid and if roles were reversed Carlisle would be just as bit as successful. Rick Carlisle is one of the best NBA coaches of his generation and oh man how lucky are Mavericks fans that he’s in Dallas.