Despite having a good showing in the In-Season Tournament and picking up upset wins against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals, Indiana has not been able to turn that unexpected run and newfound media attention into momentum to get wins.
Ever since the loss to the Lakers, the Pacers have only gotten one win in the last five games, with that win being over the lowly Detroit Pistons, who are being treated as the NBA's punching bag so far and are on track to have the longest losing streak in NBA history if they lose to the Jazz on Friday.
While the Pacers did beat that Pistons team, they failed to beat a similarly awful team in the Washington Wizards, somehow losing by 14 points to snap a six-game Washington losing streak.
After a very positive start to the season and heightened expectations from the In-Season Tournament, the recent Pacers cooldown has had a lot of people feeling some type of way, including head coach Rick Carlisle.
Despite receiving praise initially for being open to a rebuild and his development of Tyrese Haliburton, the honeymoon period with Pacers fans has seemingly ended for the 64-year-old in his 23rd season as a head coach.
While his ways have changed from years past, fans have still chastised Carlisle for his continued stubbornness and distrust of rookies, over-reliance on veterans, and confusing rotations.
After weeks of displeasure among fans, Carlisle has seemingly had enough as well, voicing his frustrations with the team and himself after the embarrassing loss to the Clippers.
Showing obvious frustration after the recent skid of winnable games, Carlisle continued by putting pressure on himself to improve as a coach and lead the players with a better example, scheduling a practice for the next day to get everyone's head in the right place.
This practice may be needed, as the Pacers of the last week do not at all seem like the Pacers that were beating top teams in the In-Season Tournament just a short while ago.
The chemistry does not seem as good as it once was, the players do not look in sync, and the team overall looks much more sluggish and less attentive, similar to the Pacers in the latter stages of the Victor Oladipo era.
In Carlisle's long list of quotables from the post-game interview, one stood out above the rest. Crucially, Carlisle pointed out that Indiana's strategy of trying to outscore teams is not suitable for long-term competition and provided possible solutions to the media as to how that would change, including switching up the rotation.
For a coach who has caught flack in recent years for being stuck in his ways and unwilling to change, this is a good sign for the future. Indiana has problems that may not need a trade or roster move to fix and could just be made better by altering the rotation or the team's playing style. Indiana's run-and-gun style on offense makes it hard for them to recover on defense, which often leads to easy points for the opposing team.
Even then, the Pacers' half-court offense is also dreadful, with their strategy of running players to the three-point line often proving pointless as teams have made three-pointers at will against them, as well as easy inside points given by Myles Turner being drawn away from the paint due to having to help on the perimeter to make up for the poor defensive strategies given by Carlisle.
This has led to Turner himself catching flack around the league as a liability on defense, which some fans have used to make light of his reputation around the league as a good defender.
With his history of being stubborn and refusing to change taken into consideration, it is understandable why some Pacers fans are not quite convinced by Carlisle's declaration to change. Indiana's issues are not exactly new and have been going on since the start of the season.
With the All-Star break approaching and the Eastern standings shaping up more like what they will look by the season's end, December 18 seems like an inopportune time to promise change.
Earlier on in the season, after the losses to Chicago and Boston, I said to give Rick Carlisle time as he was still experimenting with the rotation due to gaining four new players. That was almost two months ago. As the new year comes closer, Indiana will look to regain some of the momentum they lost in these recent losses and turn things around, and it all starts with the head coach.
Only time will tell if Carlisle is honest about these incoming changes and how much he is willing to tweak the rotation and his strategies, but with his reputation, it is understandable for fans to be skeptical.