The importance of Rick Carlisle

Rick Carlisle has made key adjustments to get better looks for Jason Terry and Shawn Marion. Matthew Emmons/US Presswire

The crucible that is the late rounds of the NBA playoffs has a way of making coaches look foolish. The past two coach of the year winners, Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau, were criticized this postseason for their teams' scoring difficulties in late-game situations during the conference finals. The previous honoree, Mike Brown, was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers after the 2010 playoffs in large part because of a lack of creativity in his late-game offense.

During this postseason, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has proved to be the exception. While Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks' veterans have played a role in that, Carlisle and his coaching staff deserve credit for an impressive performance throughout the 2011 playoffs.