Rick Carlisle

Even the Dallas Mavericks, feeling very confident going into game 2 after letting a lead slip away from them in the series opener, didn’t expect to look so good and beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-92 to make it an even 1-1 behind big offensive nights from Shawn Marion and Monta Ellis, but more than anything the defensive adjustments from Rick Carlisle.

Gregg Popovich might have been presented with the Coach of the Year award before the game started, but Carlisle was the one making the better decisions from the sidelines. He used Shawn Marion on Tony Parker, had his players switch immediately on every pick and roll which is something the Spurs aren’t used to seeing and had his players stay on guys like Danny Green the whole time, preventing the open three’s the Spurs are so used to getting from their ball movement.

The result? Except for Manu Ginobili, the Spurs are 20% from beyond the arc in the series, and are visibly uncomfortable when they’re with the ball. They turned the ball over 22 times, including six by Manu Ginobili, who led the team with 27 points. He was pretty much alone in the scoring business, as Tony Parker (12 points) and Tim Duncan (11 points) were the only other players with more than 7 points.

Monta Ellis didn’t have a pretty game, scoring 21 points on 8-of-20 from the field, but the Mavs will live with him shooting 40% from the field if their defense is suddenly looking so solid and disciplined. Shawn Marion was the real key to this victory with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and more than anything his relentless defense on smaller players, making it very hard for the Spurs to get their usual offense and movement going.

The Spurs got nothing in transition, outscored 23-3, as the Mavs turned the ball over only 7 times and hustled back quickly to make sure that their usually easily criticized defense won’t be a cause for a loss this time. The Mavs scored a total of 33 points off of the Spurs’ turnovers, finishing with 8-of-8 on transition. It didn’t help the Spurs that they shot 50% from the field and from beyond the arc.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points and like Ellis wasn’t very accurate. However, Carlisle made life easier for him on defense, as the Spurs couldn’t get the ball to Tim Duncan, scoring 16 points less than he did in Game 1. He took 15 less shots from the field, his usage ratio dropped from 30.5% to 11.5% and the Spurs were a -15 during his 30 minutes. Marco Belinelli, not giving the Spurs the edge they hoped for so far in the postseason, was an incredible -31.

We’re mixing things up a lot and we’re doing things that frankly we don’t want to do, but we have to because they’re such a potent team and they have such great players and they have the Coach of the Year. It’s a monumental task, but we’re in this thing to win. I feel like I have boulders piled on top of me. This kind of thing, you know you’re playing the No. 1 seed and all that, you’ve got to dig as deep as you can. They’re going to come up with some things up their sleeve for Game 3 and we’re going to have to counter and be ready.

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