Rick Carlisle under fire for seemingly 'giving up' at the end of Game 2

Rick Carlisle's decision to bench his starters in the fourth quarter of a relatively close game has elicited quite the reaction.
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers lost Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Boston Celtics and now trail the series 0-2. Additionally, things are not looking good for the rest of the series due to Tyrese Haliburton re-injuring his left hamstring. His status is currently up in the air for Game 3.

However, the most talked-about subject for the Pacers following the game is how Rick Carlisle handled the fourth quarter. With the fourth quarter starting and Indiana trailing by 13 points, Rick Carlisle made the polarizing decision to take out the starters and play the rest of the game with the bench.

Despite Pascal Siakam lighting up Boston for 28 points in the first 37 minutes of the game, Carlisle opted to take him out for the final 10 minutes and essentially wave the white flag by playing the rest of the game with players like Jalen Smith and Doug McDermott on the floor, who has been terrible in his limited playoff minutes.

Despite the Pacers still having a chance to come back, as limited as it was, Carlisle seemed to give up on the game after Tyrese Haliburton's injury and rested the starters for the fourth quarter. At one point in the fourth quarter, Rick Carlisle ran a lineup of Jalen Smith, Doug McDermott, Obi Toppin, Ben Sheppard, and Andrew Nembhard. This resulted in Boston taking over the game for good in the fourth quarter and leaving with the 126-110 win, going up 2-0 in the series as mentioned before.

After the game, Carlisle was asked why he made the decision to sit the starters in the fourth quarter. His response did not make it any easier for people to understand, as he stated that the players were tired. Almost immediately, this response was criticized, as the decision to throw in the towel during a playoff game due to tired players was questionable at best and head-scratching at worst. It gets even worse when you consider the fact that Boston had their starters on the floor during this time, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Truthfully, this is a double-edged sword. With Haliburton out for the rest of the game, there was little chance Indiana could make a comeback, so one could conclude that all hope was lost and it would be best to rest the starters until Game 4 on Saturday. On the other hand, it is still a ludicrous decision to essentially give up in the fourth quarter of a playoff game while it is still within reach, which this game was.

There can be an argument on whether or not the Pacers would have come back if the starters stayed in the game. It certainly does not help that Boston only outscored Indiana by three points in the fourth quarter despite the Pacers' highest scorers sitting out, most notably Siakam. Perhaps Indiana could have tightened up their defense and kept feeding the hot hand in the fourth quarter, which would have led to a win.


However, it is probably unlikely that the Pacers would have come back either way and perhaps the best bet was to rest the starters, especially if they have to gear up to play even more minutes in Game 4 if Tyrese Haliburton cannot play.