Carlisle coached this team to an NBA title two years ago. Of course, a coach like Carlisle looks brilliant when his team avoids key injuries. When key players like Dirk Nowitzki suddenly aren’t healthy, then a coach like Carlisle is suddenly not that popular any longer.
Carlisle just needs to get his team to the .500 mark before even worrying about playoffs, that’s the first goal. A team can build on a winning record even if it fails to make the playoffs. He needs to squeeze as many minutes out of a player like Vince Carter that he possibly can.
Carlisle also needs to get his team to be twice as aggressive as they have been on the road, not that this is anything brand new. But Carlisle has failed to make his team competitive on their road with a 8-19 away record so far. That’s one of the worse records in the NBA for being on the road. If Carlisle gets his team to go .500 on the road, he can see the squad bidding for that No. 8 spot.
Right now, Carlisle has one of the biggest challenges of his coaching career: having a team that two years ago was world champs not miss the playoffs so soon. This will be a true test of how good a coach Rick Carlisle is. The jury is out on how he’ll do.