More With Rick Carlisle
What is it like to give players such freedom?
In '11, we had experienced guys that knew the game and knew how to play the game. So our “flow” game with those guys was more second nature. They played together, they knew how to play with each other, they knew how to utilize each others’ skills. This year — and this is philosophically where this can be challenging — if you’re going to play that kind of style of basketball, and then you acquire several young players, and then you got two second-round picks — rookies that are in your rotation — you gotta teach these guys how to play basketball, not how to run plays. And so that’s been one of our challenges. We’ve made great strides with it. But there’s been growing pains. And that’s OK. That’s part of, you know, being in the position that we’re in. When you need to get your roster younger, one of the byproducts is you’re going to have to do a lot more teaching. I got into this because I love to teach and I love to lead. So it’s been a great challenge, and I’ve liked a lot of the progress that we’ve made. Other times it’s been tough going through some of the growing pains.
With Dirk back, will things change? Will you look to grind out more half-court offense? Will things slow down or will you stay committed to the running game?
One of the definitions, one of our definitions of “flow” is that the ball needs to move, and that it needs to find the best players in the best position to make plays. We’re going to continue with what we’re doing. Striking the right balance is something we’ve been emphasizing from the beginning, regardless of our health situation. We need to try to play fast but efficiently, as often as we can and down the stretch of games. When you need to execute, of course Dirk is going to be a focal point for us as well.
O.J.'s and Darren’s shot selection: something that comes naturally or something you emphasize? How is that being trained?
We like early great shots, all right? I love Collison pulling up for 17-foot shots in transition when the defense backs off. I like O.J. stepping into transition 3s, and when the defense runs at him I love him putting the ball on the floor and attacking. We like ball movement [and] attacking off the dribble. So, yeah, we work on those things. One of the challenges we have is that the movement of players and the ball is so important. Sometimes it’s going to take six or seven passes for us to get a great shot. We want to push the ball quickly to conserve time, and to get a great shot if we don’t have a great shot initially. So that’s all part of the reason why we push the ball hard.