As Rick Carlisle juggles his centers, trying to make time for those who earn it with the overriding focus being to win games, he had an interesting answer when asked what he wants to see most out of his big men.

"Competitiveness, care factor," he said. "Commitment to winning. Doing dirty work. Being there for your teammates. Those kind of things."

Reading too much into comments like that is risky, but since Nerlens Noel did not play Saturday against Cleveland, it was natural to draw the conclusion that the 6-11 center is lacking in some of those categories.

Carlisle has always been adamant that playing time is earned. His only job is to win games and playing favorites doesn't lend itself to that end.

Playing his most trusted players who play with passion and grit does - or at least, it gives the Mavericks their best shot.

When you hear phrases like "care factor," it raises concerns. Early in Sunday's game against Oklahoma City, Mejri came off the bench and was extremely active. He blocked Russell Westbrook and was more than holding his own at both ends of the court.