by Marcel Mutoni

The Playoffs are as much about what happens between the lines, as they are about what’s taking place between the ears. The physical battle must be waged alongside the mental one. And NBA coaches understand this better than just about anyone else.

Which is why it’s fascinating to observe the little warfare taking place between Rick Carlisle and George Karl following Game 1 of the Nuggets/Mavs series.

Carlisle was upset with the treatment his star forward, Dirk Nowitzki, received from the refs, and when he got wind of this, Karl was more than happy to prove to Rick just how wrong he is in thinking this. Reports from the Star-TelegramandDenver Post:

The Nuggets said they didn’t feel the officiating played a role in Game 1, even though Nowitzki shot only five free throws, one of which was after a technical foul. “Tell Rick I’ll send the film in on Nowitzki,” Denver coach George Karl said. “I think we did a hell of a job not fouling him. We might have fouled him off the ball. We might have fouled him before he caught the ball. We might have fouled him in fronting him, in battling him, but I don’t think we fouled him when he shot.”

Carlisle’s response? “That’s very accommodating of him.”One day after Carlisle griped about the officiating, he backpedaled. “I’m not going to talk about the officiating,” Carlisle said before practice at the Pepsi Center on Monday. “The officials didn’t lose the game for us. We lost the game because we turned it over and weren’t tough enough. Denver had a lot to do with that.”

Regardless of the video evidence that George Karl may possess, I’m willing to bet that Dirk will get more calls tonight as the desperate Mavs try and even up the series before it heads to Dallas.