3 negatives and 1 positive from Indiana's game 1 loss to Milwaukee

Indiana's Game 1 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks came and went, and there was plenty to take away.
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game One
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game One / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
4 of 5

Negative: Terrible rotation management by Rick Carlisle

Let me be the first one to say that I am not on the 'Fire Carlisle' train like some others. He is clearly a good coach and knows more than any fan combined, which is evident by the fact that he even got Indiana this far. With that being said, it is also fair to say that Rick Carlisle's Game 1 rotations were terrible.

In the playoffs, a team's rotation is supposed to shrink, giving more time for their best players and minimizing the time for their worst ones. Usually, a team that runs a 10-man rotation will shorten it to around an eight-man rotation in the playoffs. This was not the case for the Pacers.

In total, 11 players got playing time for the Pacers, all getting legitimate rotation minutes and not garbage time minutes. For a team as young and inexperienced as the Pacers, the key is to limit the inexperience as much as you can and give your best players playing time, especially if they can get on the floor together.

Carlisle also didn't get this memo. There were plenty of points in the game where the Pacers trotted out an all-bench lineup without either Haliburton or Siakam on the floor when they were clearly better with either one or both of them out there.

A bench lineup like this may have been passable in the regular season when rotations were still being experimented with and players were being shifted in and out of the lineup, but inexcusable in the playoffs. All season, we assumed Carlisle's expanded rotation was simply a way to test out what could work in the playoffs, only for him to keep those expanded rotations in said playoffs like nothing was at stake.

Chief among these players who should not have seen the court is Doug McDermott. After an abysmal regular season with Indiana, many expected McDermott to be glued to the bench for the playoffs until garbage time. Somehow, this was not the case, as McDermott got almost seven minutes of action in game 1 and subsequently tanked Indiana's chances of winning anything.

In those seven minutes, the Pacers were a brutal -17 while somehow going +2 in the 41 minutes he was on the bench. Despite being a clear negative player by all aspects, with even his jumper not falling this season, Carlisle insisted on playing him for some reason and taking away any chances the team had of winning the game.

If the Pacers want a chance to turn this series around before it gets out of hand, Carlisle has to fix his rotations. Gone are the days of 10-man rotations and heavy Doug McDermott and Jalen Smith minutes. The Pacers should run an eight-man rotation for the rest of the playoffs, with an occasional ninth man ready to come in at times.

If it were up to me, I would run the usual starting lineup with TJ McConnell, Obi Toppin, and Isaiah Jackson off the bench, with some spot Ben Sheppard minutes added in here and there. By no means should anyone else touch the court, even Jalen Smith and especially not Doug McDermott. As a championship-winning head coach, Carlisle should know better than anyone how important playoff rotations are, and he will be expected to change accordingly for game 2.