Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle knew there would be days like this.
Days when the sun doesn’t want to rise, flowers don’t seem to bloom, and when he would have to rest his entire starting lineup just to play a basketball game.
That day came Wednesday when Carlisle sat starters Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams and Chandler Parsons for the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Mavericks’ other starter, center Zaza Pachulia, was a last-minute scratch after suffering a sore right Achilles not long before the 7 p.m. tipoff.
The Mavericks rested Nowitzki, Matthews, Parsons and Williams because they each played at least 38 minutes during Tuesday’s 110-107 overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The move is for the sake of the team in the long run..
You look at body language, you look at fatigue factors, indicators, and you look at the schedule. We’re in the midst of five in seven nights, and based on that, the reality is that these guys were probably going to sit one of the five games any way.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
“It’s hard, but there are a set of circumstances that coming into the season I knew were going to be significant,” Carlisle said. “In back-to-back situations where there are big minutes, I knew [head athletic trainer] Casey [Smith] and I were going to be talking about whether or not certain guys should play.”
Nowitzki is 37, Parsons and Matthews are coming off surgery, and Williams is 31 and has had nagging injuries the past two seasons. Despite the health issues, Carlisle said his regulars wanted to play.
“Wes Matthews, he’s difficult when it comes to this stuff,” Carlisle said. “He and I have been close to a couple of fist fights.
“Hey, that’s all right. I like guys that are battlers, but we have a big picture to consider here. And with this hectic stretch — I’m a moment-to-moment person — but you’ve got to look at larger compartments of time to be prudent with how to approach this.”
Dirk is a guy that we’ve got to be careful with. So in an overtime game it puts up a red flag, so we talked about it [Tuesday] night and the decision was made.
Rick Carlisle on sitting Dirk Nowitzki.
The Mavericks are in a stretch where they play five games in seven days. And the players have no say on whether they play in those games.
“Ultimately, I’m the decision-maker, so I’ll take the responsibility for that,” Carlisle said. “But I get all the information, I watch the guys play. You look at body language, you look at fatigue factors, indicators, and you look at the schedule.
“We’re in the midst of five in seven nights, and based on that the reality is that these guys were probably going to sit one of the five games any way.”
The Mavericks play in Chicago on Friday, in San Antonio on Sunday and return home to play Boston on Monday.
Nowitzki played 38 minutes against Cleveland, Parsons played 40, Matthews 42 and Williams 43. Nowitzki is averaging 30.9 minutes per game, and a team-high 17.7 points a game.
Nowitzki is not a player Carlisle wants piling up minutes in January when it could have an adverse effect later.
“Dirk is a guy that we’ve got to be careful with,” Carlisle said. “So in an overtime game it puts up a red flag, so we talked about it [Tuesday] night and the decision was made. If guys had played their normal minutes [against Cleveland] the conversation may be way different.”
Wild first half
There were six technical fouls and two ejections in the first half Wednesday. Mavericks forward Charlie Villanueva and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook each received two technicals and automatic ejections. Mavericks guard J.J. Barea and Thunder forward Serge Ibaka were each whistled for a technical foul.