DALLAS - Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is not only creative in having designed the Mavs’ record-setting offense; suddenly, he's finding himself having to be creative in finding ways to describe it.
So this week, as Mavs training camp opened up ahead of the start of the 2020-21 NBA season, he's going with "galactically successful.''
We're not completely convinced that "galactically'' is even a word. But we are convinced that is fits, given that Dallas last year set the offensive rating record at 115.9 points per 100 possessions (breaking the mark of 115 points per 100 possessions set in 2018-19 season by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors).
Dallas on offense demonstrated a unique talent for being both explosive and efficient.
But Rick's "gallactically'' comment, sounds like a brag. It in fact comes paired with a much simpler word: "But.''
“When you establish that you’re a galactically successful offensive team, but below average defensively, that’s not going to win you a championship,” Carlisle said in full. “I don’t believe there’s ever been a team that’s won a title in the NBA that hasn’t been a good defensive team.''
Smart bet: When Carlisle hears star Luka Doncic and other Mavs talk about chasing a title (and they now do so openly and boldly), he humbles them with the above reminder. Being great on one end of the floor will not be enough.
Last year, Dallas was middle-of-the-pack in points allowed. There were too many times when it seemed like the Mavs had better score 130 ... because they were on their way to allowing 131.
They've added personnel to fix some of that. Rookie Josh Green and vets Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Wes Iwundu can help. But the carryover guys on the roster need to pitch in as well. Carlisle noted that Doncic "in the playoffs last year showed that he can sit down and defend people, too.”
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"We’ve got to be very competitive, we’ve got to be tough-minded, unselfish,'' he continued. "We’ve got to be able to win games by getting stops as well as by scoring. That’s the basic gist.”
Carlisle hinted that he (and maybe some of his guys) have taken a glance back at the backbone of the Mavs' 2011 NBA champs. He rattled off the names of Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson who drove the D.
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Said Carlisle: “It was eye-opening to look at those games.''
And what can the 2020-21 Mavs learn from it all?
“It’s great to be the very best at something as we were last year when we were the best offensive team in the history of the game on a points-per-possession basis,'' Carlisle said. "That is a substantial accomplishment.
“But we’ve got to raise the level of our defense. I want us to be an edgier team defensively.''