How the Pacers were hit with another reality check at half, then responded
"We’re gonna have to remember it and learn from it." How a heart-to-heart conversation in the Pacers locker room was necessary and productive.
When the Indiana Pacers went to the locker room at halftime of their 12th game of the season, head coach Rick Carlisle was disgusted. He was upset. He demanded more from this group because he knows they’re better than what he just witnessed.
One thing we consistently hear from players is how Carlisle keeps it real. He’s not going to sugarcoat anything. He tells it like he sees it and players not only expect the honest truth, but they appreciate it.
And that’s exactly what they received on Saturday night.
They were trailing the Toronto Raptors 65-52 after they turned it over 12 times, had six players with multiple fouls, gave up 30 points in the paint and allowed the Raptors to play to their style all while shooting 50% in the first half.
They headed back through the tunnel, turned right into the locker room, walked past the weight room and into the players’ area. That’s where this necessary, earnest conversation took place.
“It was a very, very ugly first half,” Carlisle said after the game. “They were playing their fifth game in seven nights, they were running dribble weaves chewing the clock up and dropping it in to taller guys for isos and shortening the game. And we were just letting them do it.”
To make matters worse, the Raptors were the ones who had played the previous night. They should have been tired after then landing in Indy after 1 am. And they were undermanned, without several players you know: Siakam, VanVleet and Achiuwa.
Not just each game, but each practice and each moment becomes a data point. They are all opportunities to learn, especially for this young group.
The average age of the roster is 25 and the Pacers are the sixth least-experienced bunch, averaging 3.18 seasons.
Fouls quickly piled up against Toronto and so did the free throws.
After the first 12 minutes, the Raptors attempted 16 foul shots to the Pacers’ three.
“We were letting them do anything they wanted,” Carlisle continued. “… It looked like some version of an ugly summer league game that we were getting our assed kicked in. Credit them, (Raptors coach) Nick (Nurse) had a great game plan in the first half. They had the game right where they wanted and it took a lot to get the game turned around.”
So Carlisle had a heart-to-heart with the team at the half. What they were doing was not acceptable. Were they going to react and correct their play from the first 24 minutes?