I laughed at this question. Bruce from Indy
Question: I've been noticing Rick Carlisle's clay feet of late. That he is a good coach is unquestionable; but, I must admit to being fed up with the man. First, there is his laissez-faire attitude about blowing double-digit leads.
Now, he thinks that the rotation must be set in stone (I believe it is his brain that is calcified), rather than flexible. In the Miami game, to cite the latest example, a line-up containing four reserves was building a substantial lead and he began inserting the starters who began squandering that lead. A line-up should be determined by productivity, not a set rotation time. Simply, "If it ain't broke; don't fix it."
Larry Bird is the only person in the organization to whom RC is likely to listen. Do you think there is chance that Larry might be having doubts about his coach's thinking and chew his, er, ear? (Bruce from Indianapolis)
Answer: I doubt Bird has any great concerns about Carlisle's coaching. He no doubt sees something on occasion that he questions, but I have the feeling he's not an intrusive team president who's going to force his will upon the coach. He was left alone when he was the head coach and he'll give Carlisle the same respect. The two talk often and I know Bird provides input, but I doubt he gets into substitution patterns. I believe he encouraged Carlisle to play Tinsley earlier in the season, but I don't think he meddles on smaller issues.
Carlisle has a consistent approach, and it's worked well for him most of the time. I was interested in his thoughts about bringing his starters back in that game because, as you mention, the reserves built the lead. But I got the answer I expected. He's not likely to make a drastic change from a system that has been effective. If they go on to lose a close game with most of the starters on the bench, that's going to raise questions, too.
I wouldn't say Carlisle doesn't care about giving up leads. I think he's careful not to make too much public criticism of the players, especially when they're winning. Admittedly, the issue of losing leads but still winning games has to qualify as a small one. It's something that could haunt them in the playoffs as it did last season, but coaches understand that opponents are going to make runs. Still, it's important that the Pacers get in the habit of playing with intensity and focus when they're leading just as when they're behind. There's great benefit to blowing out an opponent and resting the starters and getting playing time for the reserves.