DALLAS -- Whatever dreams the Dallas Mavericks want to realize this season, they know those dreams will turn into a nightmare if they don’t make some marked improvements on the defensive end of the court.
Last year the Mavs’ perimeter defense was just as bad as their interior defense. Opponents got to the rim at will, and scored at will.
That has to change, or else the Mavs may miss the playoffs for a second straight season.
“We have to establish ourselves as a solid defensive team,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said during Media Day on Monday. “We were OK last year, but we weren’t good enough.’’
The Mavs finished 27th among the 30 teams in points allowed last year after relinguishing 101.7 points per game. They also were 17th in defensive three-shoot field goal shooting (35.9 percent) and 12th
in field goal shooting allowed (44.5 percent).
In addition, the Mavs grabbed just 41.9 rebounds per game, while their opponents nabbed 45.6 boards per contest. Overall, Carlisle knows none of the aforementioned numbers equate to a team preparing for a playoff run.
“It’s my responsibility to make sure our guys know how important it is,’’ Carlisle said, pointing to the
defense. “We’ll have to make the sacrifices necessary to do it.’’
Carslisle also knows the Mavs must find a way to successfully maneuver their way through pressure-cooker games. The Mavs failed miserably in that category last year when they dropped their first seven overtime games before finishing the season with a paltry 3-8 record in overtime games.
“Along with being better defensively and doing a better job rebounding the ball, we’ve got to do better in close games,’’ Carlisle said. “When you lose eight out of 11 overtime games like we did last year and lose the first seven in a row, you’re going to put yourself up against it, and we did.
“We were fighting out of a hole all year long. You’ve got to execute and you’ve got to perform in those situations.’’
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter