Pacers Report Cards: Grading every Pacers player's second-round performance

How did every Indiana Pacer perform in the team's second-round series win against New York?
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Seven
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages
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Rick Carlisle

Now that the players have been graded, how about Rick?

I would like to say that Rick Carlisle in this series proved why he is the long-term coach of the Indiana Pacers and coached this team fantastically when it mattered most, so I will do just that. Admittedly, Carlisle was rather poor in the first two games, as he made the same mistakes that he did to start the Milwaukee series when he ran some minutes without Tyrese Haliburton or Pascal Siakam, but he fixed that issue up quick.

Carlisle's biggest fault in the series was the decision of who would guard Jalen Brunson. The first two games proved to be major growing pains, as the Andrew Nembhard experiment failed miserably. Thankfully, Carlisle found something that stuck in the following two games, with Aaron Nesmith being put on Brunson. This made it all the more puzzling when Nembhard was back on Brunson to start Game 5, a decision which Carlisle immediately regretted, as he put Nesmith back on Brunson to start the second half.

Thankfully, Carlisle not only reverted to the previous defensive gameplan on Brunson in the final two games but improved on it, sending double teams and traps at him whenever possible and giving him no room to breathe. This strategy worked like a charm, as Brunson was kept at bay in the final two games and Indiana rode their hot shooting to two straight wins and the series clincher.

Rick Carlisle is now headed to his first Conference Finals since the 2010-11 season when he won the title with the Dallas Mavericks. Along the way, he proved that he is Indiana's coach for the future and there is no doubt to that statement. Carlisle has done a fantastic job silencing all the doubters who wanted him fired earlier in the season and in the first round and has helped Indiana to their first real taste of playoff success in a decade.

Final Grade: A (Earned the title of Indiana's head coach for the future)