Rick Carlisle is talking defense as the Dallas Mavericks try to get back to the playoffs after their 12-year postseason streak came to an end.
Dirk Nowitzki has two new scoring partners in guards Jose Calderon and Monta (MAHN'-tay) Ellis. Both signed multi-year deals after Dwight Howard spurned Dallas in free agency and joined Houston.
Carlisle was asked about the potential of his new offensive trio, and responded by saying it all came back to defense. He says Dallas just wasn't good enough in that area last season.
The other newcomer to the starting lineup is defense-first center Samuel Dalembert (DAL'-em-behr).
The Mavericks haven't won a playoff game since Nowitzki led them to the franchise's first championship in 2011. They open the season Oct. 30 at home against Atlanta.
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