Nate McMillan Fired. PRAISE THE GODS.

A couple of weeks ago, the Indiana Pacers gave Nate McMillan a one-year extension on his contract as a coach, which set off a rash of Michael Scott memes, F-bombs, and plaintive repetitions of the word “why” in a desperate tone previously reserved only for Nancy Kerrigan’s Skyrim guard moment at the hands of Tonya Harding’s goons in 1993. Fun coincidence: The 1993-94 season, Nate McMillan led the league in steals despite only starting eight games and made Second Team All-Defensive; McMillan, for his career, is third all-time in steal percentage behind Alvin Robertson and Pacers broadcaster Quinn Buckner. In …

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Rik Smits: Was He Any Good?

Do the Indiana Pacers just have a team-wide trait, like a fantasy race in a role-playing game, where “centers who protect the rim but can’t rebound worth a lick” are part and parcel of that trait? Because they have Myles Turner today (6.6 rebounds per game for his career), they had Roy Hibbert before (6.3 rpg), and the OG Pacers center who couldn’t rebound is the subject of today’s edition of Was He Any Good, the Dunking Dutchman, all 7-foot-4 and 6.1 rebounds per game of him, Rik Smits. Smits was All-Rookie in 1988-89 after the Pacers drafted him with …

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T.J. Warren: King of the NBA Bubble

T.J. Warren has been an absolute tour de force for the Indiana Pacers as the team has gone 4-1 in five games so far in the NBA’s restart, clinching the tiebreaker against the Philadelphia 76ers with a win to open the eight-game slate at Disney World and knocking off the championship favorite Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. Warren has cooked a 50 burger, dropping 53 points in that Sixers game, and he’s served up the fries and Coke with 34.8 points per game overall and four games with at least 32 points on the board, including 39 in that …

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Detlef Schrempf: Was He Any Good?

Detlef Schrempf is the patron saint of Goofy Foreign White Guys Who Wear Number 11 in the NBA. It’s quite the list. Besides Schrempf, there’s Arvydas and Domantas Sabonis, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Enes Kanter, among others. If you prefer your goofy tall white dudes to be American, you can see them wearing number 11 as well—just look at Meyers Leonard and Chris “Birdman” Andersen. But we’re not here to talk about goofy white dudes. We’re here to talk about a guy who, before he got traded to Seattle and established himself as the prototype of the slick-shooting German tall 3/stretch …

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3 Great Coaching Candidates for the Indiana Pacers

All season long, as I’ve beaten the “Fire Nate McMillan” drum here and on Twitter for the Indiana Pacers, people have asked me an obvious return question. “OK, so you fire Nate. Who do you replace him with?” And during the regular season, that’s a hard question to answer because every coach I’d pick to coach the Pacers is employed somewhere else making his case for coaching the Pacers but in presumably no danger from his own team. So my stock answer became “Interim Head Coach Dan Burke, then figure out after the season which coach with an actual grasp …

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Tell Your Statistics to Shut Up: The Weird Pacers-Spurs Game

This season, Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich have been, in terms of D’Antoni Index, the most mired-in-the-Dark-Ages, least inclined toward modern NBA offense teams in the entire league, and it hasn’t even been close between them and the rest of the NBA’s coaching fraternity. For those needing a primer, to calculate D’Antoni Index, you sum a team’s 3-point attempt rate (the percentage of its shots that are 3-pointers), its percentage of shots taken within 3 feet of the rim (per Basketball Reference; you can just as easily use NBA.com’s restricted area stats if …

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#FireNate! Pacers Twitter Vs. Nate McMillan

Following a 2-week delay in which I ended up in Twitter Jail AND had my Internet service go out (and it wasn’t just mine, the whole block I live on lost Comcast service before a tech could get out and fix the wiring outside my building), I’m back, and with the All-Star break on, I figure a lighthearted look at the revolt in Pacers fan circles against everyone’s favorite Dark Ages offense-loving, Scott-Hollins Syndrome-afflicted, fire that guy before Victor Oladipo pulls a Paul George and forces his way out of town, worst-in-the-NBA head coach is in order. That’s right. It’s …

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Shooters Shoot: The Re-Integration of Victor Oladipo

The Indiana Pacers, after winning in spectacular fashion in Victor Oladipo‘s first game back with the team, have lost three in a row, including a listless disaster of a game against the Knicks, a garbage loss to a Mavs team that didn’t have Luka Doncic, and a FIRE NATE NOW DEAR GODS HOW DO YOU BLOW AN 8 POINT LEAD IN 83 SECONDS 119-118 disaster movie against the Toronto Raptors. Through all of this, and including Oladipo’s 2-of-8 performance against Chicago that was redeemed in the final seconds of regulation, the Pacers’ two-time All-Star is just 13-of-53 (24.5 percent) from …

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WELCOME BACK VICTOR OLADIPO!

If I told you that a player came off the bench, played 21 minutes, went 2-of-8 from the field and 1-of-7 from three, scored just nine points, and added two rebounds and four assists, what would you say? Something along the lines of “that’s not a very good stat line, that’s the kind of thing that costs teams games,” I’d guess. Well, in the words of Charlie Brown, tell your statistics to shut up, because that player is Victor Oladipo, that one three-point make was a monster of a clutch shot that sent the game to an overtime the Pacers …

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Learning How to Win: The Renaissance of T.J. Warren

Back toward the beginning of the season, I applied some history from my days as a boxing writer to surmise that there are some NBA players who, by virtue of playing on Dumpster fire teams for their early careers, learn how to lose and as such become liabilities when the game is on the line. One of my examples, Kemba Walker, was one of the worst clutch players in the league when he was in Charlotte, shooting atrocious percentages in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime when shooting to tie or take the lead. And for …

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