Over the course of the season, I have seen many-a-Pacers fan talk about how Rick Carlisle maybe isn’t a great coach or they question his decision-making. And I mean, there are a few things that if I had Carlisle in a room to myself I’d want to ask: (1) Why does Mathurin continue to come off the bench? (2) Why does he not call timeouts when I think he should? or (3) Why in the world do you have the rotation structured that way?
But I think what many Pacers fans forget in these conversations are two critical pieces of information.
- You don’t have all of the information that the coaches do in terms of the players.
- You don’t know what the directives from the front office are for performance.
- You haven’t won an NBA championship.
It’s easy to be a couch-NBA coach, I mean, I fall into the trap often. It’s very easy to say “They should have done X” when I don’t have to live with the consequences nor do I even know the motivations for the decisions made in the first place. Here a figure for the basketball wiz-kids in the room that show just how “bad” Carlisle has been this year and in his career: 23.5 games projected total wins this season for the Pacers, and we’ve won 32 games amidst injuries throughout the roster with time to spare in the season. The Pacers still have a chance to win as many as 44 games (nearly double the projected win total). And not only that, Carlisle is the 14th most winningest coach in NBA history and has won an NBA championship. You don’t get to those numbers being a scrub.
Does he have a few weaknesses? Sure. He sometimes has been said to lack relationship with the players as well as needs assistants to really round out his defensive system.
But overall he is one of the best coaches in the NBA and in NBA history.
Think otherwise? You don’t know basketball.