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Dallas Will Battle Oklahoma City Without Their Coach

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When Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said he was hoping for, "Good health" as a Christmas present, who knew he was talking about his own health.  Carlisle will not coach the Mavericks in Monday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The coach had a minor knee scope Wednesday and will not travel with the team as a precautionary measure.

Rick Carlisle had what was termed "minor'' arthroscopic surgery. The medical staff has suggested it would be wise not to travel for a few days to avoid any complications with the surgery.  It appears that it has been a nagging injury for the coach but it shouldn't be anything major that detracts him from coaching the team for the rest of the season.  Mavericks Assistant Coach Dwane Casey ran Sunday's practice and will handle coaching responsibilities for the team on Monday night. Carlisle said he expects to rejoin the team Tuesday as they host the Toronto Raptors.

Dwane Casey will continue to handle the "defensive coordinator" aspect for the team and fellow assistant, Terry Stotts will handle the offensive game-plan for the team.  Between Stotts and point guard Jason Kidd, the offense should still be in good hands.  Kidd joked as he was leaving the practice court that he's got an earpiece ready to go to get mobile coaching from Rick Carlisle as he recuperates in Dallas. 

Despite Rick Carlisle's presence being absent at practice, his spirit was clearly in the building.  "I like our disposition night in and night out, just coming in with that tenacity on the defensive end; that's huge," said Caron Butler.   "We know we can score, but on the defensive end we just continue to get better so it's a joy to watch."  They will definitely have their hands full on defense as they try to stop Kevin Durant, the leader of the high-powered Thunder team.

Despite the road victory for the Mavericks against the Thunder on November 24, Kevin Durant scored 32 points against Dallas.  Durant is the league's leading scorer but he's scored 18.7 points on 37.4 percent shooting over his career against the Mavericks.  We'll have to see whether that game in November was just an anomaly or if Durant has figured out how to break through the defensive game-plan the Mavericks have thrown his way over his young career. 

Tyson Chandler was Durant's teammate on the USA National Team over the summer in the FIBA World Championships.  He also had the role of Mavericks scout on Durant.  Chandler was unable to really uncover any secrets on how to stop the scoring machine.  "I tried, I really tried," said Chandler when he was describing his playful covert scouting.  "I watched him and watched him and watched him but as much as he works, he works on things that he feels that's he's not good at to become great at it.  He doesn't have many weak spots.  He is 6-11, can handle the ball like a guard, shoots like a (shooting guard) and has the size of a big man minus the weight," Chandler continued.  "He's a very versatile, all-around player."

So what does Dwane Casey plan on using in order to try to contain Kevin Durant, " a shotgun, two-by-four or anything is available to your hands."  The Mavericks aren't hoping it comes down to that, but Durant better be prepared to see different schemes thrown his way.