Nate McMillan, Pacers need time to mesh

Pacers improve to 4-0 at home after Wednesday's overtime win over the Sixers. [Frank McGrath/PS&E]

Pacers improve to 4-0 at home after Wednesday’s overtime win over the Sixers. [Frank McGrath/PS&E]

This isn’t about Nate McMillan or the Indiana Pacers players, all of whom are spending their first year together as a collective unit with McMillan as the head coach.

Besides, there are 29 other teams in the National Basketball Association that have the same goals in mind, make adjustments within the organization and go through their ups and downs. Fortunately for Indiana, the past few years have resulted in mostly positive results.

Much of that could be credited to the man whom McMillan replaced, in current Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel. Vogel took over as the head man of the Pacers following a tough few seasons with Jim O’Brien at the helm. Vogel had zero experience as a head coach and the tasks that came with it — like managing multiple personalities, navigating through some 82 regular season contests, and attempting to slide into the postseason.

But he lasted.

Vogel lasted with Indiana because he did well. He found success by meshing those various attitudes, developing his players to play to their strengths and maintaining a positive demeanor no matter the circumstances.

Suddenly, those aforementioned positive results were no longer any good. Vogel was let go at the end of the 2015-16 season because his boss was ready to make changes.

Remember, this isn’t about McMillan or the guys suiting up in Indiana uniforms. Nor is it about Vogel.

Enter Vogel’s replacement: former player and head coach Nate McMillan. A man formerly known as a “sergeant” to his players out west in Seattle. A man also formerly known as Vogel’s associate head coach. McMillan was promoted to head coach following the departure of Vogel and away we go. That’s how fast it happened.

McMillan took over an Indiana franchise that had some interesting pieces on its roster. There was All-Star Paul George. The young, lanky, athletic Myles Turner. The former scoring machine and still-durable Monta Ellis. Then, there were a few question marks, some veterans that have shown consistency at times, and frustration in other moments.

More interesting names were added to the bunch in proven vets Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague, Aaron Brooks, Thaddeus Young, and Kevin Seraphin. New roles to be filled and existing roles to be improved upon. All this placed in the hands of Sergeant McMillan.

The Pacers have shot out of the cannon to … a rocky 4-4 start following Wednesday’s 122-115 overtime win over the winless Philadelphia 76ers (0-7).

Expectations aside, we are speaking about an entirely new group of faces. Given only a few months to get acclimated with one another and share a basketball court for a few times before meaningful games began, this team is still finding its way.

82 regular season games. Nearly seven months of combined preseason and regular season basketball, plus another handful of games if the blue and gold are to make the playoffs.

All of this is because of the decisions being made by the legendary Larry Bird, the President of Basketball Operations. This isn’t about Coach McMillan or his players, but it is about them because of Bird.

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