The Indiana Pacers hired Rick Carlisle to be their next head coach, ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported on Thursday (see Tweet below).
Carlisle spent 2003-07 at the helm for the Indiana Pacers and the last 13-years in Dallas as the head coach of the Mavericks.
After coaching in Dallas for over a decade and winning an NBA Championship, what went wrong that led to them parting ways, and what do the Pacers need to fix?
Five things Carlisle and the Pacers can do better:
- The Pacers and Mavericks Have Been Terrible in The NBA Playoffs: Rick Carlisle does not need to prove himself as a head coach in the NBA because he is an NBA Champion head coach who has had his team in the playoffs nine of the last 13 years. However, since their 2011 NBA Championship, the Mavericks have not won a playoff series. One of the big knocks on former Pacers head coach Nate McMillan (until this season) was winning in the playoffs because he never won a playoff series in four years with the Pacers. Carlisle will have to get this veteran team to at least the second round of the NBA Playoffs and show he can make the proper adjustments in a seven-game series.
- The Pacers Need to Play Team Basketball: Over the last three years, the Dallas Mavericks had All-Star Luka Doncic running the show on the floor, especially the previous two years (and deservedly so). However, the Pacers do not have a transcendent talent like Doncic; they instead have a collective group of really good players without a great player. According to StatMuse, Luka Doncic had the highest usage rate in the NBA this season at 35.9%.
- Utilizing Players, Because The Pacers Have a Lot Of Them: Because Doncic had such a high usage rate, other players could not get as involved in the offense. Kristaps Porzingis was not happy with his role in the offense, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. The Tweet about the article MacMahon wrote on June 7 can also be seen in a Tweet here from Bleacher Report. The Pacers have a lot of players who deserve to want the ball, which will need to be managed.
- The Pacers Have Been Terrible On Defense: Carlisle had the Dallas Mavericks as the eighth-best team in points per game on defense this season, but the season before (2019-20), they were 19th. He will need to make sure the Pacers are playing a lot like this year's Mavericks team on defense and not the team from the season before because the Pacers ranked a pitiful 26th in points per game under first-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren this past season. More on team's defensive points per game can be read here from TeamRankings.
- Maintaining a Good Road Record: The Dallas Mavericks had an excellent road record of 21-15 (2021) and 23-15 (2020) the last two seasons. However, in the three seasons before that, they were dreadful on the road with a record of; 9-32 (2019), 9-32 (2018), 12-29 (2017). The Pacers were 21-15 on the road this season.