Dirk Nowitzki on Rick Carlisle starting him at center: ‘I thought he had a few beers to come up with that idea’

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The Mavericks were suddenly running thin on centers last night.

Tyson Chandler was injured. Brandan Wright got traded to the Celtics. Jermaine O’Neal remains a free agent. That left Greg Smith and Charlie Villanueva as the only other two Dallas players who’d regularly played the position this season.

Rather than starting one of those two, Rick Carlisle rolled with this starting lineup against the Thunder:

  • Point guard: Rajon Rondo
  • Shooting guard: J.J. Barea
  • Small forward: Monta Ellis
  • Power forward:Chandler Parsons
  • Center: Dirk Nowitzki

Nowitzki, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

When Coach came up to me and asked me if I wanted to start at the 5, I thought he had a few beers to come up with that idea

Parsons, via MacMahon:

The least athletic front line we’ve ever had in the history of the NBA

Nowitzki had played just six minutes at center – defined as playing without Chandler, Wright, Smith or Villanueva – entering the Oklahoma City game.

In 22 minutes with Nowitzki at center last night, the Mavericks outscored the Thunder by 17 points. Dallas got outscored by 12 in the game’s other 26 minutes.

At this point, we should just trust Carlisle can take a sober look at his team and coach it well.