Nate McMillan and Pacers players meet during a timeout
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 21: Head coach Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers looks on during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 21, 2020 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nate McMillan Believes Depth, Health Make The Pacers Contenders For An NBA Title

The NBA is still weighing its options for the resumption of the 2019-2020 season.

Nothing is set in stone, so teams have to remain flexible during the long layoff – including Nate McMillan’s Indiana Pacers.

Coach McMillan discussed how he and his team are preparing for a return to basketball with Jeff Rickard and Big Joe Staysniak on The Fan Morning Show.

McMillan addressed the approach to communicating with his players remotely, often once a week over Zoom:

“You do have to understand that this is a time when you have to lift your players and you do have to be positive with them…and know what’s going on with them and their families…We want to see their faces. It’s like family, it’s like your kids.”

“We have each guy speak about their day…their workouts, their training,” McMillan told Jeff and Joe. “We just advise each other on different things that we can do. Strength and conditioning coaches [and] our trainers are in constant contact with our guys sending out information.”

Indiana was on a roll prior to the sudden stoppage. The team had just returned from a 4-1 road trip and were 7-3 since the All-Star break.

“We were playing good basketball,” McMillan said. “We had a good rhythm going, even though we had some injuries and we had some guys coming back. But I think we should be okay. I really trust our guys. I believe that they are doing whatever they can and as much as they can during this off time to get themselves ready to play.”

As Coach mentioned, one of the big concerns down the stretch for the Pacers was health, particularly with the starting unit.

“Our guys are healthy, they feel good. Malcolm [Brogdon] is feeling great. Victor [Oladipo] continues to work extremely hard to strengthen his body, his legs and everything. And [T.J.] Warren has healed up. All of our guys are feeling much better and ready to go.”

It remains to be seen just how the rest of the NBA season and playoffs will unfold. Will there be a single-elimination NCAA style tournament? Shortened playoff series at a neutral location? Whatever the scenario, McMillan is confident, sharing this bold prediction with Jeff and Joe:

“I just think this unexpected situation [will result in] an unexpected champion. Anything can happen – a tweak or an injury can happen to some of these teams that have been at the top for most of the season. We don’t know what the return is gonna look like…We’ve shown that we have depth and to have everybody healthy, I would feel comfortable going into the playoffs against really any team when we’re at full strength…I just like our chances going into the playoffs.”

 

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