The Dallas Mavericks made a bold move in 2008 by firing Avery Johnson and replacing him with Rick Carlisle. Johnson led them to three straight 50-win seasons and the NBA Finals in 2006, but after back-to-back first-round exits, Dallas made a change. It paid off as Carlisle piloted the Mavericks to a championship in 2011 and helped Dirk Nowitzki cement his legacy as an all-time great.
Following the title, Carlisle became one of the longest-tenured coaches in the league before stepping down in June 2021. He led the Mavericks to 555 wins in 1,033 games and nine playoff appearances in his 13 seasons in charge. Carlisle is arguably the best coach in franchise history.
The 62-year-old took over the Indiana Pacers last summer, and he returns to American Airlines Center to face the Mavs for the first time on Jan. 29. Carlisle missed the first meeting between the Mavericks and Pacers this season as he was in the health and safety protocols. What can fans expect in his return to Dallas?
What should Dallas Mavericks fans expect in Rick Carlisle’s return to Dallas?
It will be odd seeing Carlisle on the other bench on Saturday night. The Pacers head coach talked about his excitement in seeing so many familiar faces with the Mavericks ahead of the Pacers win over the Thunder on Friday evening.
The Mavs have a tribute video planned for Carlisle ahead of his return game, which is well deserved. He was not always the easiest person to deal with, but Carlisle did a ton of winning in Dallas, including guiding them to their only championship in franchise history.
Carlisle’s former players are excited to go against him. Dorian Finney-Smith had this to say about the matchup against his former head coach.
"It’s going to be a little different. I spent all my time here with Carlisle. Great coach. It’s going to be fun. I’m a competitor. He’s a competitor."
"I’m going to talk a little trash, probably to his assistant Mike Weinar. I can’t help it, especially if I hit a 3 over there, I’m going to let them hear about it. It’s going to be fun."
Finney-Smith is not the only player excited to face the Mavs former head coach.
Dallas Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will be excited to face Rick Carlisle
Fans know Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will be fired up to go against coach Carlisle. The former head coach did not always have the best relationship with the two stars. Porzingis was frustrated with his role in the 2021 postseason, and fans witnessed Doncic and Carlisle getting into it on several occasions.
It will be interesting to see how the players react to coach Carlisle. There are a lot of reasons he stepped down after 13 seasons leading the Mavericks and his deteriorating relationship with Luka Doncic was high on the list. Expect the 22-year-old superstar to show love to his former mentor, even after a rocky finish to their time together.
Expect the Dallas Mavericks to have a little extra juice for Saturday’s game against the Indiana Pacers and former head coach Rick Carlisle. Dallas is one of the hottest teams in the league right now, and they want nothing more than to defeat Carlisle’s squad. Do not miss what promises to be an exciting game.