MIAMI – As a way of motivating himself, Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis has some very critical articles in his American Airlines Center locker which states how terrible he is at the defensive end of the floor.
The motivating tool has apparently worked, because Ellis has turned up the defensive juices in recent games, much to the delight of coach Rick Carlisle.
However, Carlisle noted that Ellis will have his stiffest challenge to date Friday when he has to defend Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat on Friday and Orlando rookie Victor Oladipo on Saturday.
“He’s picked it up in the last few games and the assignments the next couple of games get harder with Wade,’’ Carlisle said. “He probably won’t guard (LeBron) James, but then you’ve got Oladipo in Orlando, and the other guy (Aaron Afflalo) is good too.
“In a situation like his where he’s a dynamic scorer, teams are always going to go at him. So it’s important that he is able to hold the fort defensively and be able to continue to attack offensively.’’
Attacking defenders isn’t the only thing Carlisle wants from Ellis, who averages 36.4 minutes per game. With Ellis’ ability to relieve Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki of playmaking duties, Carlisle has to find a way to decrease his minutes.
“Right now my biggest challenge with him is the right number of minutes,’’ Carlisle said. “It’s hard to get him out of the game right now because he supplies us with that extra playmaker when Dirk’s out of the game and when Vince’s out of the game.
“So that’s a challenging part of it. I don’t want to play him 39-40 minutes a night. I think that’s too many.’’
-- Dwain Price
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