It is not normally considered good form to complain about the coach based on one game of an 82-game season. But for the Indiana Pacers, they should’ve fired Nate McMillan…well, they never should’ve hired him in the first place, but if last year wasn’t enough to convince them to take the franchise in a new direction leadership-wise, then what’s it going to take?
And I don’t want to hear the argument “but they won 48 games!” Yes they did. Because they have a ton of talent that in the right hands with the right offense could win 60 in any year Victor Oladipo stays healthy. Phil Jackson once said that the secret to his success was Michael Jordan.
Let’s look at Game 1, a listless 119-110 loss to the Detroit Pistons, and see how it encapsulates every single reason the hashtag #FireNate belongs in the No. 1 spot on Twitter trends in Indianapolis every day until Kevin Pritchard finally understands and Dan Burke is named interim head coach.
3PAR. Good in Golf. Bad on the Pacers.
That’s “3-point attempt rate”, a simple percentage, like a batting average in baseball, calculated as 3PA/FGA.
The Pacers, in their first game, had a 3PAR of .236. Of the teams that have completed a game so far this year, only the Miami Heat (.214) took a lower percentage of 3-pointers in their opening game.
Last year, they took 29.2 percent of their shots from long range. That was 29th, ahead of only the San Antonio Spurs, who have two superstars who can’t shoot for beans from 3 in LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan on their team.
Contrast teams that are actually good. Like the Milwaukee Bucks (.419) or the Houston Rockets (.517) or the Denver Nuggets (.348, good for 15th, setting the approximate median for how many threes a team should take, and they have Nikola Jokic taking lots of two-point shots right at the rim!)
A whopping 13.5 percent of the Pacers’ shots in Game 1 were long twos; from 16 feet out to the arc. That’s fifth-highest (the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are hot trash, were number one, and of course the Spurs were fourth.)
Nate McMillan is still on his Scott-Hollins Syndrome BS. Don’t let Myles Turner going 4-of-7 from long range fool you. This is still the same inefficient offense that leaves points on the table, one reason they lost to the Pistons on opening night.
Pritchard Believes in the Draft. Nate…Not so Much.
Consider this gem of a tweet from Alex Golden:
The Pacers have said that in a small market the best way to find talent is through the draft.
Since Kevin Pritchard took over, they’ve drafted T. J. Leaf, Aaron Holiday & Goga Bitadze.
Last night those 3 picks combined for 0 points on 0/7 shooting, 1 rebound & 1 TO in 10 mins.
— Alex Golden (@AlexGoldenNBA) October 24, 2019
So why did he get a DNP-CD when Domantas Sabonis ended up with five fouls?
And Aaron Holiday…who’s coaching him? Because it sure ain’t McMillan. His undisciplined “get my shots up while I’m in the game because even the basketball gods don’t know when that idiot will put me in again”…that’s what rookies on trash teams do when their coach won’t give them a steady rotation role.
T.J. Leaf isn’t reaching anywhere close to his potential. Alize Johnson was terrible in his few minutes he played last year, but the Pacers couldn’t have found a way to give the young guys some run instead of running their starters into the ground because of McMillan’s allergy to the concept of garbage time?
No wonder Oladipo got hurt. Hell, T.J. Warren got hurt in Game 1. All of this is ultimately going to circle back to Nate and his inability to develop young talent because for better or worse he’s a veteran players’ coach.
Checkers vs. Chess
Via friend of the show William Beckman:
-Why is Goga not playing Leaf was garbage, everybody knows he is garbage.
-MCCONNELL 4Q WHATT??
-Not calling timeouts when they go on runs LATE IN THE 4TH
-again why did the starters play late 3q early 4th and then sit out for much of the 4th..
Etc etc etc https://t.co/CLzii7zqTu
— William Beckman (🌹) (@willisahill) October 24, 2019
It’s funny how a subset of my Twitter following, when they hear I’m going to write a hit piece on Nate, are happy to say “I see you’ve got your gun there, would you like some spare ammo?”
Pacers fans aren’t stupid. It’s one reason I love this team even though I have no personal connection to Indiana. I’m not from there, I don’t have family there, hell, I’m from Boston and spent most of the aughts rooting for Tom Brady against Peyton Manning.
But the team that hooked me thanks to Reggie Miller keeps me in part because of the best fans in the NBA.
And we’re all in agreement, especially after a loss, that any other coach would’ve turned in a better performance than McMillan did.
He Ain’t Won Squat
McMillan’s career playoff series record? 1-7. And the 1 was with Seattle way back in 2005, back when being a Dark Ages coach was understandable because the NBA Dark Ages were still going on (1998-2007, for those wondering, between Jordan’s second retirement and when Mike D’Antoni discovered fun in the back of a Phoenix Suns supply closet, dusted it off, and started the NBA on its Renaissance.)
Nate has never been a good coach. Not in Seattle. Not in Portland. And not in Indiana. He should never have a role on an NBA sideline unless it’s as an assistant, where his excellent ability to manage player egos and team chemistry is divorced from his complete lack of even rudimentary skill at coaching the Xs and Os.
Every day the Pacers are coached by McMillan is a day they are coached by a guy who shouldn’t have a job as the head man on any team.
Value Over Replacement Coach
You know VORP? Value Over Replacement Player? This is VORC.
And Nate has a negative VORC. By a mile.
So let’s not worry about firing Nate just one game into a long season. Dan Burke would be a better coach than Nate this season. And when the Celtics faceplant and overreact by firing Brad Stevens, or when Kevin McHale, who has Rockets experience and knows modern basketball, or when some college coach runs an innovative scheme at a mid-major and gets them to the Sweet 16, that’s who the Pacers should hire for Vic’s first full season back from injury next year.
Because as long as Nate McMillan is coaching the Indiana Pacers, the ceiling is 40-something wins and a first-round exit that fans are already prepared for before Game 1 even tips off.
Fire Nate. #FireNate. Let’s get this going on Twitter and chant it at every game the Pacers are losing by double digits at Bankers Life in the fourth quarter this year.
Thank the gods Game 2 isn’t until Saturday. One game in and I’m already in need of time to process.