“The five best teams in this league now, in no particular order: Cleveland, Golden State, OKC, San Antonio and Indianapolis.”
That’s what Colin Cowherd said. He said it on his show, The Herd, after Al Jefferson had signed with the Indiana Pacers and before Kevin Durant had signed with the Golden State Warriors. Here’s the whole video:
Think what you want about Colin Cowherd, but he wasn’t the only one who thought the Pacers would be contenders. Well, he and everyone else who agreed were wrong.
At 15-17, the Pacers currently sit in ninth place in the East. They’re only a few games back from the third seed, but nowhere near contending for a title or challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Though I was one to believe the Pacers were the real deal back in July, it did not take long for me to change my mind. I wrote about the Pacers’ problems over a month ago, just 13 games into the regular season. In the article, I mentioned that the Pacers would continue to struggle due to their many issues which stemmed from a lack of leadership.
It starts with Nate McMillan.
By no means is he the only problem. The players on the roster do not quite mesh; the wing depth is shallow; the power forward depth is shallow; the list could go on. One could argue that McMillan has not been given the cards to contend, and they would be right. So why does it start with him? McMillan is a problem himself. He’s not motivating. He’s not improving. He’s simply under-performing.
Ask yourself: would you switch rosters, in their current state, with the Brooklyn Nets? Philadelphia 76ers? Miami Heat? Phoenix Suns? Dallas Mavericks?
Your answer should be ‘No.’
Those five teams have the worst five records in basketball. Yet, they have all beaten the Indiana Pacers this season. Why? Coaching. We’ve known all along. We knew when the decision was made that it did not make sense. Bleacher Report did not hold back when they ranked all NBA coaches prior to training camp, he ranked dead last.
But it’s the NBA, I get it. Sometimes you have bad losses. But when you lose to all of the bad teams, what does that make you? A bad team. These players are way too good to be a bad team. They are way too good to be 15-17.
Larry Bird should have listened to himself when he said this team needs a new voice. Instead, he hired a guy who has been on the Pacers bench since 2013. If he has a new voice, the players aren’t hearing it. It’s time to replace Nate McMillan.
Again, he’s not the only problem. Larry Bird knows the roster has it’s issues. He’s admitted it. He’s said, “I think one of our problems is we’ve got too many guys that like to pound the basketball.” He’s said, “we’re always going to be inconsistent, because of the fact that we don’t defend as well as I thought.” He knows, and I’m sure he’s on the phones. If not, then I’m not sure what else he’s doing.
One thing is for sure, the Indiana Pacers need a change.