View Full Version : Why Jim O'Brien Was Fired

02-02-2011, 12:12 PM

The day after Jim O'Brien was shown the door, the Indiana Pacers ended a six-week slump with a 104-93 Monday night win over the Toronto Raptors...

After starting the season 11-10, with extremely impressive road victories over Miami and the LA Lakers (!!), the Pacers had dropped 17 of 23 games in such ugly fashion that management decided a change had to be made. O'Brien had already been considered a lame duck coach because rumors suggested his contract wouldn't be renewed at the end of the 2010-11 campaign. The team was playing like the season didn't matter.

Last 23 Games:
Efficiency Averages: 99.1 on offense, 104.9 on defense
Efficiency Medians: 96.9 on offense, 103.3 on defense

(Efficiency is points scored and allowed per 100 possessions)

To give you some context, there is no offense right now in the league that's as bad as 96.9 in efficiency for the season. Cleveland was league worst at 97.1 entering Monday action. Milwaukee was second worst at 98.1. For more than a month and a half, Indiana had the worst offense in the NBA. I didn't see anyone report that in the mainstream media. But, THAT'S the crux of why he was fired. Even if management didn't sit around punching numbers into a calculator all day...the worst offense in the league is something they could see with their own eyes as they watched the games.

The defense, which had started the year very well (inspiring me to write about it at the time), had drifted back to about league average. You can't win with a horrible offense and an average defense. Maybe you're slightly better than New Jersey and Washington (two of O'Brien's six recent victims, with horrible Cleveland being another). You're not going to qualify for a playoff spot, even in the East where it's easier to get a seventh or eighth seed.

All of this was largely happening off the media radar. Indiana's just not part of the league's presentation right now. In fact, some were surprised because casual glances at the playoff picture showed that Indiana might still be a factor:

Eastern Race At Time of Firing:
7th spot: Philadelphia 21-26
8th spot: Charlotte 20-26
9th spot: Milwaukee 19-26
10th spot: Indiana 17-27

The Pacers were only two games away from the playoffs when O'Brien was let go. If you've mostly been watching football the past several weeks, it looks like Indiana fired a respected coach who was on the verge of making the playoffs! Instead, they fired a coach who's abysmal offense had just gone 6-17 to put the team in danger of not even competing for that eighth and final spot.

Note that Indiana's win Monday, coupled with a Charlotte loss at Utah, puts the Pacers just a game out of eighth place.

A win over Toronto doesn't mean you're ready to take the world by storm. But, new coach Frank Vogel (no relation, lol) will at least have a chance to turn things around and make a run at the Eastern playoffs.

Transition Points

*Charlotte's loss at Utah was a 83-78 yawner. But, it was notable because it represented another good defensive game for Utah!

We talked last week about the horrible defensive performances from the Jazz on their Eastern swing, then in TV games vs. the Lakers and Spurs. Two things happened after that Spurs game. Deron Williams had to miss some time with an injury, and the team started playing defense!

100 points allowed to Minnesota, 99.0 efficiency
96 points allowed to Golden State, 104.3 efficiency
78 points allowed to Charlotte, in what will grade out as one of the best defensive performances of the year obviously

That compares to:
116.1 defensive efficiency at Washington
104.4 defensive efficiency at New Jersey
119.6 defensive efficiency at Boston
103.2 defensive efficiency at Philadelphia
125.0 defensive efficiency at the LA Lakers
115.5 defensive efficiency vs. San Antonio

The six-game average was 113.9. The midpoints were the 115.5 and 116.1 marks.

It's dangerous to make knee-jerk reactions to something like this. But, obviously the team is playing MUCH better defense with Deron Williams in street clothes. Either everyone's rising to the occasion, or he wasn't doing as much as he should have been when the other team had the ball during that recent stretch.

*Utah's win was even more impressive because it came on night two of a back-to-back. Charlotte was in a hermit spot, meaning they didn't play Sunday, and won't play Tuesday. Other "hermits" vs. "b2b's" the last few days:

Rested New Jersey beat tired Denver 115-99

Rested Phoenix beat tired New Orleans 104-102
Rested LA Clippers beat Charlotte 103-88

Rested Dallas beat tired Atlanta 102-91

Rested Detroit almost upset tired Miami in an 88-87 loss
Rested Phoenix beat tired Boston 88-71

Some one-sided victory margins in there (with some big name teams going down), and Miami's close game was expected to be a blowout. There's a school of thought that says back-to-back fatigue becomes more of a factor the deeper you get into a season (because of cumulative fatigue in addition to short-term fatigue). Let's keep an eye on that between now and the All-Star break, when everyone will finally get a chance to rest up a bit.

*Orlando lost another game where three-point accuracy wasn't great and inside defense was soft...falling to Memphis 100-97 Monday night.

Treys: 8 of 32, 25% (38% adjusted)
2-Point Defense: 36 of 65, 55% allowed to Memphis

Hedo Turkoglu did make it to three field goals though. The Magic are almost an automatic loss if he only makes two or less. They needed a bit more from him tonight. Amazing...Dwight Howard played 45 minutes, yet the team still allowed a very high two-point percentage.

02-02-2011, 12:15 PM
"Efficiency averages"..."efficiency medians"...Stats our ex-coach can relate to, one would hope.
Man, I won't miss Jim spouting his stats related stuff after games.
Won-loss record should be a stat most on our minds, along with playoff chances.

02-02-2011, 12:20 PM
You can't have a good offense if your main power forward can't score and the only thing he does is shoot threes.

pizza guy
02-02-2011, 12:43 PM
You can't have a good offense if your main power forward can't score and the only thing he does is shoot threes.

Sure you can, it just takes a truly dynamic player at another position. The Pacers problem is that the best player isn't one of those truly dynamic players. That can come from any position, and if you've got that guy, you can have players at other positions who aren't scoring machines. I maintain that our problem is not specifically at the PF position, but rather at the "superstar" position. We have a solid team awaiting a superstar. It sounds silly, but if you add a guy like Kobe, LeBron, DWade, Melo, KD, even Eric Gordon, the rest of this team is good enough to be a real contender. That's why we're all hoping Paul George can be T-Mac 2.0, because it would put us over the hump.

Also, a dynamic player makes everyone else that much better because he takes the pressure off. Pau Gasol has improved since going to the Lakers because he's not the focal point there. KG and Ray Allen have been able to extend their waning careers by joining Pierce and keeping the pressure off of one another (not to mention Rondo's emergence). If there is a way TPTB can bring in "that guy," we'll rocket up the standings.

02-02-2011, 01:00 PM
The day after Jim O'Brien was shown the door, the Indiana Pacers ended a six-week slump with a 104-93 Monday night win over the Toronto Raptors...

So the Raptors game ended the slump OK, what did the 32 win over the Nets do

02-02-2011, 01:06 PM
So the Raptors game ended the slump OK, what did the 32 win over the Nets do
You have to stop your insane pursuit of logic.

02-02-2011, 01:08 PM
We need to leave statistics out of the conversation when talking about O'brien.

02-02-2011, 01:13 PM
So the Raptors game ended the slump OK, what did the 32 win over the Nets do

Well, the game afterwards got O'Brien fired, so I'd say that's a good thing. ;)

02-02-2011, 02:04 PM
This thread is irrelevant. The wins against Jersey and Toronto were both irrelevant. So is tonight's win.

The only thing relevant is that the young players are finally being developed and players, as Tyler indicated, know what to expect. It is hard to place a value on that.

Also, good job Frank. DNP for Posey and Solo was an easy call for you wasn't it?
It's refreshing to see something logical being done.