To find a similar case that describes the relationship between head coach Rick Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks, let's go back to the wonderful days of high school.
You're in a good relationship with a girl you really like. Everything is going great, the dates are fun, the times are exciting, you enjoy the person's company, and life is good.
Then one day, after months of what appears to be a successful relationship, you find out from one of your best friends that your girlfriend hooked up with your ex-girlfriend's older brother's cousin—or something ridiculous like that.
All she did was hook up with one guy—nothing drastic like plowing through the whole high school football team behind your back and then announcing it over the PA system before school. Nope, just a single one night stand.
However, that causes a slight tear in the relationship that was at one point seamless.
What used to be taken for granted as reliable and trustworthy now has suffered a crack, albeit the tiniest of slip-ups. Once that crack has been made, you could continue on with that person, but there's always the thought in the back of your mind: "It might happen again."
Pretty soon, the crack caused by that one event leads to a full out break. Game over.
That feeling caused by the tiny tear in the relationship is how I felt after the Mavericks' season came to an unceremonious end to the Spurs.
For the most part, everything had been going well this season: The Mavs went 55-27 and had a league-best 13 game win streak at one point. They got the two seed in the playoffs, which translated into home court until the West Finals. Dirk and Co. rode a five game winning streak into the series against the Spurs and even took Game One in business-like fashion.
Then Carlisle cheated on us. He slipped up.
After that series, I simply cannot trust Rick Carlisle anymore.
What seemed to be a healthy relationship has been damaged and that damage, I believe, is irreparable. I'm never for firing a coach immediately after a big loss, but Carlisle's management of the team over those two weeks was so egregious I will make an exception.
Now, if we want to stick with the high school methaphor, Carlisle did not hook up with someone to make every Mavs fan jealous. He simply got drunk at a party (in this case the playoffs), saw a cute girl that wasn't his woman (in this case looking at the wrong lineups), then forgot about his lady (in this case, the right players who would deliver).
Just like in high school, there were subtle hints that something bad could potentially happen. It wasn't enough to raise a whole lot of concern during the regular season (the majority of time spent together) but, once we got to the postseason (the party), those hints translated into a full out disaster.
Carlisle messed up and that mistake is enough for the Mavs to break up with him.
Now on to the reasons.
I'm not going to bash Barea here. He's a serviceable backup in the NBA and one of the better spark plugs in the league. Nobody works harder and gets more out of what they have than Juan Carlos.
To be the fair, the fall off from five to four is pretty steep on this countdown, and you'll see why in a few minutes.
I am totally content with him getting 20 mpg and playing his ass off for that time (especially given his friendly salary of $2.1 million.)
My issue takes place in Game Three of the Mavs-Spurs face off, the most important game of the series.
In that game, Carlisle benched Caron Butler for the entire second half and played JJ the rest of the game. Now, Barea had been playing well, but that is no reason to play someone who is a liability on defense (I know he plays hard, but hard work doesn't always translate to good production).
Carlisle just fell in love with Barea like he had been doing all year while neglecting to realize when the right players should be on the floor.
To be fair, I am extremely biased here because Barea stands in the way of Roddy Beaubois' minutes (much, much more on this in a few slides.)
Final thought on Barea, and let me get all John Hollinger on you here. I don't invest too much in plus/minus, but in this case it can't be overlooked. Barea had the worst +/- of any Mav who played more than 15 mpg.
His -6.7 was dead last and is evidence of the fact that, when he's on the floor all the time, it doesn't translate to the Mavs being better. Carlisle should have taken note of this, but ignored it and gave him the whole second half of the most crucial the game of the year.
Barea is like tequila: the right amount and it's fun, but too much of it and you end up in a toilet, just like the Mavs season.
My beef with Damp will always start and finish with the fact in the '04 free agency Dallas gave him $70 million instead of paying Steve Nash.
Anyway, in the Spurs series Erick and I made the same amount of shots (cool little stat I like to break out at the bars in front of girls.)
In case you're wondering how a scrawny 5'10" white kid with no left hand (although a deadly first step to the right and decent three) scored in the NBA playoffs, it's because I didn't. And neither did Damp.
Yup, that's right: not a single bucket. Oh, but that must mean he didn't play.
Sorry, no. He did.
Complete Stat Line:
Games Played: 5 (the Mavs won the game he didn't get in by 25, can't make that up.)
FT: 5-12 (his only points of the series.)
Oh but he been a helluva rebounder right?
Well, six rebounds per 25 minutes really isn't owning the glass, is it? Then of course you have the 0-8 from the field for the series, translating to an abysmal field goal percentage of 0 percent.
Add it up and you get 1.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 20 personal fouls for the whole series. Anytime you're starting center is throwing up one and six while fouling four times a game, one scratches his head.
Now, of those numbers the most startling to me is the fact he played 23 MPG.
That only leaves the same amount for Brendan Haywood who had been averaging a double double in the regular season (12 and 10) No explanation needed on why this was a less than stellar move by the dubious Jim Carrey look-a-like.
Before we get into this, let me a make a quick point: I have a hard time believing you're going to win a title when your coach passes the Fake ID test with Jim Carrey.
(The Fake ID test is what I use to describe look-a-likes that aren't dead-ringers but could go to a bar with that person's ID and probably get in. Jim Carrey passes the Fake ID test with Carlisle, whereas Mike D'Antoni is a dead ringer for Viper from Top Gun. Think about it for a second...yup, now you realize it. Crazy right? Anyway, on to the rest of the list).
Carlisle's refusal to experiment with different lineups and never give certain players a chance just bugs me. If you're not one of the guys he's hellbent on playing, you will not see the floor.
This first became apparent last year when Brandon Bass was on the Mavs. It's no surprise that the Magic started winning this past postseason when Bass was injected in the lineup. Carlisle always refused to go small and give Bass minutes instead of Damp.
Other players include Kris Humphries, who put together solid numbers after he was traded, Roddy B again (we're building here,) and Deshawn Stevenson, who I was genuinely excited for when he became a Mav.
Stevenson barely saw the floor in the playoffs in spite of being one of the best defenders on the team. Not to mention he had playoff experience—how could one forget the back and forth between him and LeBron a few years ago (even though that was mostly forth from LeBron, but still). In this case, Carlisle chose to keep watching Shawn Marion shoot enough bricks from outside five feet to build me a new house.
I don't know what goes on in practice, but unless these players are just awful people, there's no excuse why they weren't given a chance.
It's like, before the game, Carlisle had his mind made up about who's going to play and how many minutes they are going to get, no matter how the game goes. How else you can explain his blatant refusal to play difference-makers at key points in the postseason?
This picture was one of the more promising days in my sports calendar year. When we acquired the Wiz Kids, I thought the conference finals were a given and a title was definitely a possibility.
What I didn't know is that Carlisle would become involved in a personal clash with the two best members of this trade. Deshawn probably should have been pissed seeing as he barely touched the floor, but he always remained a good teammate who could always be seen on the bench cheering as hard as anyone.
Let's just put it down that I'm driving the Deshawn Stevenson bandwagon.
As for Haywood and Butler, on two separate occasions in an attempt to motivate, Carlisle just made it worse. Let's go to March 24th, after a game in which Carlisle started Damp over Haywood, to which afterward when asked how he felt about it, Haywood replied, "I just work here." Not a very ringing endorsement of that decision.
If you're saying Haywood shouldn't have been a baby about it, he had every right to get mad at this ludicrous decision, which led to this in the postseason:
Carisle starting Damp over Haywood and giving him the same amount of minutes.
We already talked about how Damp is as worthless as non-alcoholic beer. There's no justification for him being on the floor, but then, just to make things worse with his insistence on playing Damp, Carlisle had to piss Haywood off.
And rightfully so: He was better in every aspect of the game than Damp, yet Carlisle chose to ignore this.
As for Butler, the Game Three incident where he benched Butler in favor of Barea for the entire game doesn't need anymore ripping from me. It is what it is, and Butler did respond in Game Five, but Carlisle still potentially cost them a swing game in the series.
By the way, before you call me a hypocrite in saying Butler should play after I'm on record of saying he's the worst ball stopper in the league, just know I would take Butler over Barea any day of the week. It's the lesser of two evils.
The Mavericks best five for the series against the Spurs were Kidd, Beaubois (almost there), Butler, Dirk, and Haywood. Too bad we rarely ever got to see it happen.
In my time of being a Mavs fan, watching Rodrigue Beaubois's potential just waste away on the bench, especially against the Spurs, ranks right near the top. Beaubois was given an opportunity earlier in the year as a starter on this team when Terry went down with a broken face.
And he produced.
Let me repeat that: He produced. He didn't suck. He wasn't a liability. In fact he was the opposite: He was a spark, a much-needed breath of a fresh air on a team full of 30-somethings who have been in this league for over 10 years.
His freakish athleticism and quickness has people comparing him to a future Rajon Rondo, except Marc Stein of ESPN.com has been on record of saying how he can be that except if Rondo was a good shooter.
In Dallas right now, he is the second favorite Maverick behind Dirk. True statement.
Beaubois was the only rookie other than Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans to score at least 40 in a game (granted it was against the Warriors, but still.)
And yet all year, it seemed Carlisle desperately struggled to come to grips with the fact the team was better when Roddy played. His refusal to give him minutes and instead give them all to Jason Terry and JJ Barea throughout the year was just ridiculous.
Then we have the postseason.
This was a total abomination. I still think it ranks ahead of Stan Van Gundy playing Vince Carter about 30 minutes too many as the worst coaching decision in the playoffs.
For the first five games of this series, Beaubois just sat on the bench. Instead he gave all the minutes to Jason Terry who shot a phenomenal 35 percent from the field and played pretty much no defense.
And this was all before Game Six.
That's when we all saw just how insane not playing Beaubois was. He flat out torched the Spurs and scored 16 points in 20 minutes. That's when Carlisle realized he had made a colossal mistake, and then he refused to play a red hot Roddy B when San Antonio had no one who could guard him. That's when he took a mistake of a mistake and made it a helluva lot worst.
After watching Roddy tear through the Spurs' D and finish at the rim, Carlisle promptly sat him on the bench for the majority of the 4th quarter before the Spurs' lead became too big.
Beaubois' stellar play made him look like a buffoon for not putting him on the floor until Game Six. It was totally indefensible and yet another coaching decision that influenced the outcome of the series.
This reached "throwing remote at the TV level of sports angry." The Mavs losing the series is when we get to "throwing the cell phone angry."
This mistake is just unforgivable. I simply do not trust Carlisle in managing this team anymore, and the Beaubois incident will not soon be forgotten. I also will not be surprised if next year Ricky comes back and just repeats his mistakes.
It looks, though, as if he will actually return and, if that's the case, God help us all if Roddy is forced to sit on the bench just wasting away.
Like I said earlier, the relationship with Carlisle was solid through the regular season. Sure, there were some bumps along the way, but for the most part it was steady.
The playoffs, however, were an entirely different story, and it's an unforgivable coaching mistake that should cost Carlisle his job.