Carlisle wakes up the Pacers

Rick Carlisle is a curious guy. Of course, in a good sense of the word. Among the entire horde of coaches who have passed through the NBA in the 21st century, has stood out for its tranquility, its kindness and even, later, its alopecia, one of its distinctive features. A member of Larry Bird’s Celtics who won the ring in 1986 (the last in franchise history), he stood by the forward’s brilliant mind when he left the track and began coaching. Bird, a man of his word, never returned to the Celtics, with whom he maintains a mutual love relationship at a distance. He went to his native Indiana to accept the coaching position in 1997 and assured that he would only be there for three seasons.. And, indeed, those were the ones that were.

Bird was very well advised those years: Rick Carlisle was his offensive coach and Dick Harterel defensive, and with them came specialists in both subjects such as Dale Davis, Antonio Davis and Derrick McKey. Reggie Miller, already a veteran, did not stop developing his potential and the result, a tremendous background as Bird’s own coach, was extraordinary: Conference final (4-3 loss to the Bulls), Conference final (4 loss) -2 to the Knicks) and NBA Finals (4-2 loss to the Lakers). Three dreamy years that were never repeated. Not for threatening to experience such successes again. Rather, by the exile Bird’s office and his refusal to return where he was not particularly excited to be.

As Bird took a well-deserved break and then, in 2003, took over the sports management of the Pacers, Carlisle began to make a name for himself. In 2001 he signed for the Pistons, with whom he achieved 50 victories in each of his two seasons. and their first Conference finals in 2003, planting the seed of that team that was later inherited by Larry Brown and that won the 2004 title, reaching the round that Carlisle led them for six consecutive years. After this, the coach set course for, of course, Bird’s Pacers: 61 victories and other Conference finals, with defeat against those Pistons who had trained a course before. After that, three more years, two in the playoffs, and exit from the franchise, but with a name that was always on the lips of managers and a consolidated reputation.

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It is already known how the story continued: ring on Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks, with whom he enhanced the importance of the assistants (Dwayne Casey, key in defense) as Bird did with himself. And out the back door after 13 years of diligent service, the technician who, together with Erik spoelstraHe had been on the same team for more years after, of course, Gregg Popovich. His return to Indiana, a place with an idiosyncrasy that he is a part of despite being a New Yorker by birth, towards heralding a new era that would lift an entity that was ostracized from the competition. But the crumbs of what the Pacers had been are not easy to put together, and Carlisle is going to have to work hard to put the pieces together and emerge in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference.

The start of the season for the Pacers has been marked by even losses and a 4-8 record that relegated them to a position that is not theirs. But the win over the Jazz in Salt Lake City can lift your spirits: 30 points from Brogdon and 21 from McConnell led the away crowd, which did not have much contribution from Domantas Sabonis in attack (6 + 7 + 5). But he beat the second best team in the West (now third), Donovan Mitchell’s 26 goals (with 5 rebounds and 4 assists) and the double-double, one more, from a Rudy Gobert more effective than effective. Indiana came into the break with a 9-point lead (51-60) that he then turned to managing, leaving his rivals at just 23 points in the fourth quarter. At last good news, with a defense that drove a victory that could mean, why not, a turning point. And let’s remember: with Rick Carlisle, anything is possible.

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