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NBA Finals Notebook

No rookie after time with Green

Dallas’s Carlisle was here before

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / June 5, 2011

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DALLAS — Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle played just 157 games over three seasons with the Celtics. But the Celtics reached the NBA Finals each of those seasons.

His playing career was unheralded, but Carlisle will always be known as the man who played with Larry Bird and coached Dirk Nowitzki. And 25 years after being a minor contributor on the 1986 NBA championship team, Carlisle is trying to win another title as a coach.

He has been close, leading Detroit and Indiana to conference finals in consecutive years (2003, 2004). This postseason has reintroduced Carlisle to the NBA landscape, and he said yesterday that the three Finals appearances with Boston served a purpose toward his current experience.

“The biggest thing, if there is something, I haven’t had this question, but the level of play in the Finals,’’ he said.

“We were there three straight years. I was a young player back then, but back in those days, we played the Lakers one year, we played Houston the next year, when they got on a roll. They beat the Lakers. And the third year we played the Lakers again.

“At the time, those two teams, Boston and LA, were the two premier teams. The level of talent . . . what the great players bring to the game and the importance of the role players, it really is very similar to everything that goes on now.’’

There is pressure on Carlisle as the series moves to Dallas tonight for three games after the Mavericks’ stirring comeback in Game 2 tied things at a game apiece. Carlisle believes neither team has played a complete game yet.

“Well, it’s two good teams that are well-prepared and generally do well the things they do well,’’ he said. “And so, you know, as the series goes on, historically it gets tougher because the familiarity increases.

“But I believe that to be a true statement. I don’t think Miami has played a fantastic game yet, and I know we haven’t. And both teams have played well in a lot of stretches.’’

Breakdown lane Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he didn’t have to say a word when he showed his club the final seven minutes of Game 2 on tape. The Heat were outscored, 22-5, and had several defensive breakdowns.

Jason Kidd and Nowitzki were left open for 3-pointers, while Chris Bosh was left to defend Nowitzki one-on-one on the winning play, and Bosh didn’t foul Nowitzki despite the Heat having a foul to give.

The Heat were a stunning 5 for 18 in the fourth quarter, including 2 for 11 from the 3-point line. LeBron James and Bosh combined for one field goal in that quarter and none in the final seven minutes.

“You know what, there’s so many story lines there; there are a lot of misconstrued thoughts,’’ Spoelstra said. “There were 14 offensive possessions going down the stretch when we were up 15. Eleven of them we would take.

“You have to give Dallas credit defensively, but we executed well enough. There were three very poor offensive possessions.

“Sometimes you miss open shots. They didn’t. They made them when they needed to. Every mistake we made defensively, we paid for it. That hasn’t been a characteristic of ours in the last three or four months.

“We have had a good run at the end of games. I’m not going to overreact to this one. We’re much better going down the stretch doing a lot of good things. We’ll be better.’’

Haywood iffy Dallas center Brendan Haywood said he is better after leaving Game 2 with a right hip flexor injury, but he is expected to be a game-time decision . . . Nowitzki said he and Jason Terry have a “love-hate’’ relationship, that neither has an issue jumping on the other for subpar play. They are the lone remaining members from the 2006 Mavericks team that reached the Finals. . . . Dallas guard J.J. Barea is just 3 of 15 from the field in the series, and Carlisle said former lottery pick Corey Brewer could see action. Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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