DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks season is down to the final 40 games.
"Every single game has great meaning," said Mavs Head Coach Rick Carlisle.
The Mavericks continue to try and improve and make the best of what's left of what, so far, has been a disappointing season.
"Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't," said Mavericks guard Darren Collison.
To help things go more their way, Carlisle has been coming down hard on his players.
"You can't hold back and tap dance around things," Carlisle said. "It’s about being direct, truthful, and addressing things that need to be addressed."
That's the approach he's been using, especially when he's been working with his young back court, Collison and guard O.J. Mayo. Behind the scenes at the Mavericks offices, the tape machines have been rolling long hours as Carlisle conducts extra study sessions.
"I understand where he's coming from," Collison said. "Me and O.J., we've had a lot of tough love from coach. Coach has been in our face since day one. It’s all about a learning experience. Coach, he just wants us to get better. He just wants us to continue to improve."
"Individual sessions are good," Mayo said. "You can ask questions and put out there what you think or what you've seen, and just continue to get better."
That doesn't mean the study sessions are all negative -- far from it.
"We really believe that showing the good things and showing what we want to do is as, or more, important than showing the things we're doing wrong," Carlisle said.
"You know Rick is going to tell us like it is," Collison said. "He's going to be honest with us, and it's the reason why we're improving every day."
Can he be brutally honest?
"Yeah, all the time, every day," Mayo said. "Not sometime, all the time. I asked coach Carlisle just to make sure I get better. I wanted him to get with my game, and have him critique it, and get me where I wanted to be."
Carlisle's tough love is starting to pay dividends.
"When we get stops and get the ball out, we're one of the best fast-break teams in basketball," Carlisle said. "The thing that's going to facilitate more of that is better defense."