NBC Sports

Kerr and Carlisle under spotlight in Warriors-Mavs rematch

NBC Sports

When the Warriors face the Dallas Mavericks for the second time in three days on Saturday, there will be spotlights aplenty, beginning with one on Golden State superstar Stephen Curry and potential superstar Luka Dončić.

Another will be on Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis, whose statuesque defense made him the victim of remorseless attacks as the Warriors rolled to a 147-116 win on Thursday.

The third spotlight, and the one could matter most of all, will be on coaches Steve Kerr of the Warriors and Rick Carlisle of the Mavericks.

The Kerr-Carlisle matchup will be discussed on NBC Sports Bay Area’s pregame show (4:30 p.m.) and likely again on the postgame show following the ABC telecast, scheduled for a 5:30 tipoff.

Facing a team for a second consecutive game is a test of each coach’s ability to adjust. Carlisle is considered one of the better tactical coaches in the NBA. He’ll have to coach up some defense after his team was blasted off its floor two days ago.

Carlisle on Friday made the Mavericks watch all of a third quarter during which the Warriors scored 36 points and, moreover, shot 70 percent from the field, wiping out a two-point halftime deficit and taking a 110-96 lead into the fourth quarter.

“Everybody is there, everybody sees everybody’s mistakes and it is just out there,” Porzingis told reporters in Dallas. “We can talk about stuff and be honest. That is what good teams have to do. They have to look at their mistakes and make sure you try to correct those mistakes going forward.”


Porzingis made a few mistakes, but his bigger problem was physical. He’s 7-foot-3, but surgical warfare has diminished his movement, especially laterally. He scored 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-8 from distance, but that hardly offset his defensive shortcomings.

So, Carlisle has to decide what to do about KP, who is an acute liability against the small-ball attack of the Warriors.

Ride with him, living with his defense and getting his offense?

Start him and pull him when the Warriors attack?

Sit him for Tim Hardaway Jr. or Jalen Brunson, who on Thursday combined for 34 points and seven 3-pointers off the bench?

Though Kerr anticipates an adjustment that will become apparent early, if not at tipoff, his greater concern is that the Warriors will confront a more aggressive Mavericks team.

“I look at these little two-game series just like I do a playoff series,” Kerr said Friday. “In every Game 2 in a playoff series, I've always felt the biggest adjustment is the emotional one. You can talk about the tweaks and maybe a team changes a matchup, maybe they add a couple of offensive sets, maybe they play zone a couple times, whatever it is. 

“But the physical tweaks in a playoff series are not nearly as critical as the emotional one. And that's what's coming from Dallas (on Saturday) and we know that.”

The assumption is Carlisle will try something, maybe physical and emotional, in hopes of getting a stronger performance from the Mavericks.

Indications are the Warriors will be ready. They are 3-0 this season in the second of consecutive games against the same opponent, averaging 125 points in those games.

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