Nate McMillan enjoys first visit to IMS, brings staff along with him

Pacers head coach Nate McMillan decided that Thursday would be his first day spent inside the massive grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just over five miles north west of his home away from home, Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

But he wouldn’t do it alone. It would be a staff outing at IMS on this practice day for the 33 cars entering the field for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, set for Sunday, May 28.

“I have never been and I am just amazed at what all goes into preparing yourself for the race, and to see these cars and to listen to the power and see the power of these cars, [it’s] amazing,” McMillan said.

The NBA Playoffs are down to the final four, and the Pacers, for the third straight year, are not participants in the Eastern Conference Finals. (It’s Cleveland and Boston.) At this point, coaches are working with the several players who remained in town, and they have turned their attention towards the draft, specifically to NBA hopefuls who spend a day in Indianapolis for evaluation, a workout, and meetings.

[Pacers 2017 pre-draft workout attendees]

On this day, McMillan, assistants (except for birthday boy Bill Bayno, who turned 55), and support staff made their way to the track and first to Gasoline Alley. That’s where the cars are stored and worked on. McMillan was invited to visit the Andretti Autosport garages of Jack Harvey and Alexander Rossi, who won the 100th running last year as a rookie.

McMillan and assistant coaches Dan Burke and Popeye Jones spent time looking over the cars and talking with point people, like Harvey’s team owner Michael Shank, in the garage.

“The things that they have to prepare for, they talked about the film sessions that they go through are very similar to basketball,” McMillan explained. “It’s all about team. It’s not just about the driver, it’s not just about the pit crew, or ownership. Just like the NBA.”

[Ahead of NBA announcement, Nate McMillan on Paul George: ‘He’s’ an All-Pro for us’]

It’s likely that they many of them will attend the race, always held on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. (Unless weather gets in the way, of course.) George Hill, Myles Turner, and Glenn Robinson III attended last year’s race, and GRIII is already scheduled to ride in the 500 Festival Parade one day earlier.

The Pacers’ group benefited from a bad day of weather on Wednesday. As winds blew anywhere from 20-47 mph, just 408 laps were turned on Wednesday.

“It’s a good day to be out here and see these guys get ready for next week,” McMillan added.

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