For the fans who desperately want the Dallas Mavericks to tank the rest of the season away so they can improve their status in the June NBA Draft, coach Rick Carlisle has a message for you: That’s not going to happen.
The Mavs were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday night when Portland defeated Phoenix. At that point, the Mavs had just seven games remaining in the regular season.
The first test on how the Mavs would treat those remaining seven games came Sunday on the road at the Bradley Center against a red-hot Milwaukee Bucks team.
Final score: Mavs 109, Bucks 105.
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“I’m not going to take my foot off the gas,” a defiant Carlisle said. “The guys that are playing are going to be responsible for playing the right way.”
Besides, while the Mavs are 32-44 and would draft ninth if the Draft Lottery ping-pong balls hold serve, Carlisle wants to preserve the integrity of the game.
“I don’t see us moving much (higher than ninth in the draft),” Carlisle said. “I think it’s more important to play this thing the right way.
“We’ve got a lot of high character guys.”
Just because we were officially out of the playoffs as of (Saturday) night, we were pretty much out of it a while ago. But we’re going to keep playing.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
While it may be easy for Carlisle to rest his veterans and play the younger players, that’s not in his DNA.
“Guys have continued to play hard, play together the entire time,” Carlisle said. “Look, just because we were officially out of the playoffs as of (Saturday) night, we were pretty much out of it a while ago.
“But we’re going to keep playing. That’s the kind of guys we have.”
Forward Dirk Nowitzki sure doesn’t want to go to the arena knowing that the Mavs have already decided they’re not going to at least try to win.
“To me, no NBA game is meaningless,” said Nowitzki, who scored 17 points against the Bucks. “I love to compete, still, and I guess we saw that today.
“Guys want to play and want to get better, our young guys are still hungry and want to improve, and the old guys still have fun out there competing. Whoever is out there is going to keep competing until the end.”
To me, no NBA game is meaningless.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki
Carlisle touts Kidd for Coach of the Year
There are more than a few folks who have mentioned Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, Boston’s Brad Stevens and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra as leading candidates to win this year’s NBA Coach of the Year award.
But Carlisle believes another very worthy candidate should be included in that bunch.
“I’m surprised I’m not hearing Jason Kidd mentioned for Coach of the Year,” Carlisle said, referring to the Milwaukee Bucks coach. “I think he really has done an amazing job.
“They’re on a run right now where they’re really moving up and the young guys are getting better. They’ve just done a tremendous job of developing young guys.”
Despite Jabari Parker suffering a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament on Feb. 8 against Miami, the Bucks are a fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 40-37 record.
Kidd was the starting point guard for Carlisle when the Mavs captured the 2011 NBA title.