For the past two games, the Dallas Mavericks have gone to a small lineup and started power forward Dirk Nowitzki at center.
Being the ultimate team player that he is, Nowitzki doesn’t mind the change. But he wouldn’t want to spend the rest of his career trying to contain some of the NBA’s behemoths in the middle.
“Like I always say, I’m ready for everything, whatever it may be,” Nowitzki said. “I think there are a few dominant forces at center that I’d rather not see.
We all know it’s not really a post-up league any more — it’s a pick and roll league ...
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, on playing center
“Other than that, we all know it’s not really a post-up league any more — it’s a pick and roll league, it’s a movement league, it’s a transition kind of line your guy up drive it league. The league has gone smaller and smaller and smaller, so if that’s an option for us, it’s great, but we also obviously have some big guys.”
For Nowitzki, rebounding is one of the biggest challenges when he plays center. Or is it?
“For his career he’s a good defensive rebounder anyway,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “At the [center] position it brings him closer to the basket.
“We’ve just got to make sure that the other four guys are in there tag-teaming and getting bodies on bodies and pursuing everything. Not only the [rebounds] that come off the rim like right underneath, but the ones that come off in the perimeter areas, because there’s so many 3-point shots being taken now that the long rebounds oftentimes are the ones that get regenerated for second shots.”
While starting at center in Monday’s 107-96 win over Charlotte, Nowitzki collected 11 rebounds to go with his 23 points.
We’ve just got to make sure that the other four guys are in there tag-teaming and getting bodies on bodies and pursuing everything.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, on rebounding adjustments with Dirk Nowitzki at center
“He’s been playing quite a bit of [center] over the last two weeks, so he’s gotten accustomed to it,” Carlisle said. “The big challenge is rebounding.
“The other night we did a good job of gang rebounding and doing it collectively and we actually won the boards, which was a big part of the game.”
Carlisle on NCAAs
Carlisle left no doubt about the chances Virginia has at winning this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Virginia is a No. 1 seed in the Midwest and will play No. 16 Hampton at 2:10 p.m. Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.
“They certainly deserve the No. 1 seed, there’s no question about that,” said Carlisle, who played for Virginia from 1982-84. “The NCAA tournament is one of the most compelling sports events that there is, and with single elimination it’s wild and crazy, but I like their team a lot.
“They’re extremely well-coached, they can play different tempos, which I think is very important in tournament play. I give them a puncher’s shot — I think they got a real shot to go deep.”
Mavs rookie Justin Anderson, who played the last three seasons for Virginia, has been impressed with the Cavaliers.
“It’s kind of cool that when I left everyone was saying how this team’s not going to be as good and who’s going to replace the athleticism, who’s going to replace the shooting,” Anderson said. “But one thing about my coach [Tony Bennett] that I love is no matter what he has, he’s going to make the most of it.”