There have been several threads discussing the Pacers players, but I want to discuss the Pacers coaching staff.
For the past two seasons I said the Pistons were the best coached team in the NBA. The difference between Isiah's coaching and Rick's coaching was obvious the past two years, but after a full season with Rick the coaching divide is even wider than I thought.
Rick Carlisle is as good or better than any coach in the NBA. So many things I love about the way he coaches.
1) I like his offensive and defensive systems. His idea of playing playoff style basketball all season is brilliant.
2) I like how he handles adversity/problems with players. He deals with it and moves on, he does not make excuses, he does not throw a fit, he does not embarass a player in the media. In fact I think this is his greatest strength as a coach. Every Pacer player knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing, and they know what will happen to them if they don't do what is expected. The players know their roles, there is no indecision about what is going on.
Rick is not a yeller, I compare him to that teacher you had in school, the teacher who never yelled and yet ran a tight ship, and a disciplined ship.
I found the comments by Rick yesterday interesting about how the offensive and defensive systems will be better geared to the Pacers talent next season because now they know the players so much better.
The two complaints we heard about Rick was that the players won't like him and that he never makes adjustments. Well we now know he does and can make adjustments. Players respect him and that is the most important thing, do they like him? I think they like playing for him whether they like him as a person or not.
I judge a coach by the way their team plays. Records can be deceiving. Tim Floyd was a terrible coach not because of the Hornets record, but because if you watched the Hornets this past season for 5 minutes you saw an undisciplined team that had no direction, no plan. No one can say that about the Pacers this past season, for the past three years you could have.
I also want to mention Dan Bourke, Ron Rothstein and Mike Brown.
Mike Brown I think was the key guy. He was the players go to guy. During games he was constantly calling players over and speaking with them one-on-one, when a player was frustrated, Mike Brown was the guy who would talk to the player. When a player had a complaint about something, brown was the guy they went to. Brown is not a pushover though, he is he was very vocal on the bench, whenever there was a defensive breakdown he got on guys.
Carlisle and Brown make a great combination. What Brown is Carlisle isn't and vice versa.
One final note: Watching the Pacers defense this past season has been a joy for me. To see all five guys work as one, to see the defensive system at work, bumping cutters, all five guys ready to help. It was great to watch all season long.