Rick Carlisle not with team for games in Memphis, Toronto
Assistant coach Lloyd Pierce will serve as the acting head coach for the second time this season.
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle is not with the team for their next two games, the team announced Thursday afternoon. He will miss games Thursday in Memphis and Saturday in Toronto due to personal reasons.
Top assistant coach Lloyd Pierce will fill in, just as he did in mid-December when Carlisle was sidelined with Covid-19. The Pacers went 2-2.
“I told (the team) it’s a family emergency situation and he’s going to miss the next two games,” Pierce said. “And if they needed to reach out (to him) they could, but we’re gonna try to take care of everything with him not being here. Guys are professionals and they understand, and we try to move forward and not make a big deal out of that.”
Pierce learned that he would be the acting head coach late Wednesday on his drive to the airport. Carlisle called him to explain his situation before the team’s flight to Memphis.
“I encouraged Lloyd to follow his instincts,” Carlisle said back in December. “He’s an experienced head coach — and when you’re on the sidelines and you’re making the play calls and you’re calling the timeouts and things like that, there’s a feel element to it. And you can’t have that interrupted just because you work for the guy that’s not there.”
“He let us be ourselves, let us go out there and do what we do,” said forward Oshae Brissett, who is averaging 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds over the last 10 games. “That really helped us. We really gained trust and respect for the coaches that stepped up.”
The Grizzlies (50-23) are one of the best teams this season and they may be the most exciting to watch. They handled the Pacers in Indy one week ago, delivering a 33-point beatdown even with Ja Morant, who remains out with right knee soreness.
Pacers rookie center Isaiah Jackson exited Wednesday’s loss to the Kings early due to a headache. It’s noteworthy because it was his first game back since suffering a concussion against the Grizzlies.
Jackson won’t play in Memphis, and neither will Malcolm Brogdon (rest), Chris Duarte (sore big left toe), or Jalen Smith (non-Covid illness). Goga Bitadze is a game-time decision due to ongoing right foot soreness and Tyrese Haliburton is expected to play, though he’s managing back soreness.
And, in case you missed it, forward T.J. Warren is now away from the team after being ruled out for the season.
After playing in Memphis, the entire traveling party must test for Covid-19 before flying across the border to Toronto on Friday afternoon.
The 25-48 Pacers have nine games remaining this season: four at home and five on the road.