There are a lot of improvements Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle would like to see his team make before they take on the Detroit Pistons tonight at 7:30 at American Airlines Center.
At the top of that list is an improvement in their transition defense.
That defense—or lack thereof – is an albatross that has hampered the Mavericks all season. And Carlisle knows it must change, or else the Mavericks will have a short stay in the playoffs –if they even get there.
"We’ve got to create good shots and then when the shot goes up we’ve got to be mindful of getting back quickly and matching up,’’ Carlisle said after today’s shootaround at AAC. "Everybody looks to throw ahead and shoot threes in transition now, so it’s now just getting back and guarding the basket.
"You’ve got to get back and you’ve got to think paint, and then you’ve got to build out to the 3-point line. It’s challenging for everybody in the league, but we’ve had problems recently and we’ve got to fix it.’’
Fixing the transition defensive problems is much easier said than done. It’s not easy when a defensive player is defending a three-on-one fastbreak and he has to choose between protecting the rim or running out and protecting the 3-point line.
"That’s the NBA right there,’’ guard J. J. Barea said. "You’ve got to get back and protect the basket and then spread out for the 3-point shooters, and sometimes you got to be lucky.
"Sometimes they’ve got to miss for you. Tonight I think we’re going to do a great job of getting back and making them play a half-court game.’’
The Mavericks are 33-31 and in seventh place in the Western Conference standings.
"We’re doing a good job taking care of the ball all year,’’ Barea said. "That’s something I think we just got to get in our head again and make sure we get back.
"Make sure we get back quicker (and) we talk more.’’
Dallas will take a three-game losing streak into tonight’s game against the pesky Pistons (32-31), who are also battling for a playoff spot.
"We’ve got to come out aggressive and our transition defense has got to be better,’’ Carlisle said. "We certainly got to get the ball in the hole better.
"All that stuff in my mind starts at the defensive end, and so we’ve got to think defense and rebounding first and then good things will happen from there. When you get in a situation like this where you’ve lost some games, you just got to fight your way out of it because there’s no other way to do it.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com