Until winning the NBA championship as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlisle never received the respect he deserved. Carlisle has a .600 career winning percentage as a coach, and he led the Pistons to back-to-back 50-32 season in Detroit before being replaced by Larry Brown who led them to a title. Carlisle coached the Pacers for four seasons and took them to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing his job three seasons later. Now, after his ninth season as a head coach, he’s earning the respect he deserves.
While most of the credit goes to guys like Jason Terry and DeShawn Stevenson for making their shots, and of course Dirk playing so well throughout the series, Carlisle did what coaches are supposed to do: put his players in the best position to succeed. Carlisle did this in two ways.
After Dallas went down 2-1 in the NBA Finals, Rick Carlisle decided to change things up. He added J.J. Barea and Brian Cardinal to the starting lineup. Cardinal, who had only played one minute in the first three games of the series, played 29 over the next three. He was nothing spectacular but he did play tough defense and commit hard fouls. Inserting Barea into the starting lineup was the real difference-maker for Dallas.