Dont include Rick Carlisle in the sector of observers who believe that after Thursdays loss at Miami, the Bulls are somehow no longer a contender. The Mavericks head coach, who won a championship last season, shared his high opinion of the team that defeated his short-handed squad following Saturdays game.
I dont know whos saying that. I saw a few highlights from that game, said Carlisle. Theres 220 possessions in an NBA game. Its easy for people on TV to sensationalize one or two plays, but over the course of a regular season, theres 15 or 20,000 possessions.
I look at their body of work over two years, I look at the coaching job that Thibodeau has done here and this team brings it every night, he continued. Thats why theyve got the best record.
It seems theres a mutual-admiration society between the two coaches, as Thibodeau waxed poetic about the Maverickswho lost defensive linchpin Tyson Chandler in the offseason, acquired Lamar Odom via trade and dealt with the subsequent drama that led to last seasons Sixth Man of the Year Award winner and reality-show star effectively being sent home on a paid vacation recentlya team that clinched a playoff berth this week, but chose to rest veteran guards Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, despite not being in position to host a first-round series.
When youre dealing with Nowitzki, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense and theyre unique because they invert their offense, said the Bulls head coach. Theyre the defending champion. Youre talking about a team with championship experience, so its a good test for usI dont think they get enough credit for their defense. Theyre very good defensively.
Theyre a well-balanced team. Carlisle does a great job with them, theyre deep, they have a lot of weapons, theyre skilled and they can hurt you in the pick-and-roll, post, catch-and-shoot. They can invert their offense and Nowitzki, because of his skill setyou have a seven-footer with a high releaseits very difficult to get to, and he and Terry are two very big fourth-quarter players for them. I didnt even talk about Kidd, he continued. They were sort of under the radar and I believe they won 57 or 58 games last year, and there was a sequence during that time where, I believe Nowitzki wasnt playing. He missed, I believe, seven or eight games, so if you factor in if he plays during that stretch, theyre probably a 60-win team and they were healthy, and playing well at the right time. which you have to be.