Outsider: Judge McMillan by what he does (or doesn't) do on the sidelines, not win totals used arbitrarily to deflect NAPTOWN – Where is Nate McMillan? Again, he succumbed to the force that is his own ego as the Indiana Pacers lost a winnable game to the Philadelphia 76ers. It appears that after Saturday's 119-116 loss at Wells Fargo Center, despite three years of Coach McMillan playing veterans way past the point of being productive, refusing to develop young talented players such as Myles Turner, and running an extremely strict offense that doesn’t take advantage of his best players talents nor cater to their skill sets; fans will once again be accused of living in the moment. A loss like this that highlights McMillans opposition to change could lead to judging Coach Nate McMillan by what he does (or doesn't) do on the sidelines as a coach, not arbitrarily assigning win totals to his resume as a sign of a job well (or not) done. A 12-7 start to a season without Victor Oladipo should be reason to rejoice regardless of the coach's failings. McMillan, however, has struggled to use Myles Turner correctly, and to play the right lineups, opting instead to play less talented veterans over gifted youngsters like Aaron Holiday. The moment Domantas Sabonis fouled out with 1:54 left at Wells Fargo Center, the advantage did not shift to the home team. He like Turner, wasn’t able to defend Joel Embiid inside and as a result the All-Star still had game highs of 32 points and 11 rebounds. Myles Turner, lacking the strength to hold position against Embiid, should of had help defenders double Embiid which would have prevented the bigs from picking up fouls. Of the 11 fouls issued to the Pacers' starting bigs, eight were drawn by Embiid, who was 15-for-15 from the line. Coach Nate McMillan refused to take responsibility for not calling for fronts on Embiid’s postups or immediate double teams. “You got to get help down on him with the bigs. If you allow him to play down deep, no one is going to be able to stop him,” he said. “I thought we were late a couple times with our traps. Our bigs got in foul trouble and (Embiid's) marching to the free-throw line. When you allow him to get that deep you’re going to be in trouble.” The shots Jeremy Lamb received from Pick and Rolls and off of Postups with Myles were more productive than the elbow actions with Sabonis. The two man game with Sabonis and Lamb yielded 1 turnover, three missed shots, and two scores. Lamb got a three off of a Myles Turner postup, two additional Lamb scores off of a pick and roll, Myles only score of the game and even forced an isolation of Lamb versus Embiid, but Lamb failed two score. Turner despite his defensive prowess, looked as helpless as former two time Defensive Player of the Year Hakeem Olajwon was attempting to defend the much larger Shaquille O’Neal, picked up two fouls in a 65-second span midway through the first quarter. The help defense never came, but to McMillans credit he did criticize his team for not helping quicker. Myles Turner, who prefers scoring off the dribble, off of pick and pops, and is a faceup postup player that uses fadeaway jumpers (like his idol Dirk Nowitzki) instead of playing bully ball like Sabonis, was never given the scoring opportunities he’s comfortable with. McMillan lacks the vision and creativity that other coaches such as Alvin Gentry have demonstrated this season with 6’10 powerforward Brandon Ingram’s breakout season. Instead Turner was asked to play a physical brand of basketball that isn’t his style, and he predictably failed to post up anyone, including Ben Simmons, but that's a 6-10, 230-pound guard. McMillan has attempted to force him to play a low post, physical style after practices, so he continues to fail, as McMillan is trying to make him the type of player he prefers, instead of allowing him to use his natural skillset. He doesn't finish well through contact, which is quite common for tall perimeter players like Dirk Nowitzki over his entire career, Kevin Durant, Pascal Siakam, and a number of other highly skilled unicorns, who used their height, length and shooting ability to shoot over defenders, instead of raw strength. And rookie Goga Bitadze, who logged just 5 minutes and didn't score, who has played professional basketball in Euroleague is actually quite ready to play important minutes against the likes of Embiid, but McMillan stubborn in his ways, refused to bring him in to help keep his other bigs out of foul trouble. . McMillan has to stop destroying Turner’s confidence, so Myles can stay on the floor and feel confident which will lead to his success and eventual break out. Last season, the Pacers went 1-3 vs. Philadelphia as they lost hold of the No. 3 spot and dropped to No. 5 by the playoffs. McMillan hasn’t attempted to develop Turner or allow him to play his game, and as a result he didn't fare well vs. Embiid then either: >> Went 2-for-8 with seven points in a loss. (no pick and pops, no isolations on the perimeter) >> 3-for-6 for eight points in a win. (no pick and pops, no isolations on the perimeter) >> Eight points on 1-for-5 shooting in a blowout loss. (no pick and pops, no isolations on the perimeter) >> 2-for-7 for six points in another lopsided defeat. (no pick and pops, no isolations on the perimeter) >> Averaged 6.5 rebounds, only getting to double digits once. McMillan has been in an extended funk since he was hired in 2016, trying to make an archaic offense, that refuses to cater to it’s best players talent, operate at a top 10 efficiency. This season, despite the roster loaded with ball handlers such as Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb,and shooters such as Myles Turner, Doug McDermott, Aaron Holiday, Goga Bitadze, (the ball handlers can all shoot too) the team’s offensive rating has actually fallen from a 110 Offensive rating, to 109. Turner has been an afterthought in the offense, with his lowest usage of his career, but his overall accuracy has dipped to 44.9% shooting, but he remains at what would be a career-high 42.2% from 3. Scorers need consistent attempts if they’re going to get comfortable scoring on a nightly basis. Just look at Paul George who was tasked with being the primary scorer in his third season (after Granger was hurt). In his first 16 games of the season, he only averaged 14 points, shooting 39% from the field as he struggled to find his comfort zone before breaking out. The volume just isn't there for Myles Turner, in an offense that refuses to utilize him. He opened strong by going 9-for-15 vs. the Detroit Pistons and making a season-high 4-for-7 3s. Turner went 1-for-8 in Philadelphia and grabbed just three rebounds in 28 minutes. In the seven games he has played since returning from injury, McMillan is 26-for-67, 38.8%. In three of them, he hasn’t attempted a free throw. In two of them, he only attempted one. Saturday, he went to the line twice. It's an indication of him continually played out of position, removing his drives to the basket which lead to easy scores and free throw attempts from defenders meeting him at the rim. The answer to Coach McMillan’s coaching woes isn’t for him to dig in, stubborn and resistant to change, but instead allow Turner to play to his strengths. So what if he's 6-11. Giannis Antetokounmpo isn't a 3-point shooter, so calling plays for him to take shots from 22 feet and beyond isn't a smart strategy. T.J. Warren isn't a strong post-up player, so why make him go away from his strengths of mid-range and corner 3s? Turner may have gotten stronger physically, but that doesn’t make him a post player. Dirk Nowitzki continually got stronger over his entire career, but never became a low post scorer, instead opting for faceups, and relying on his famous one legged fadeaway, a shot Turner has emulated. Where his bread is buttered is facing up with confidence. The issue right now is McMillan's in ability to inspire confidence in his players by putting them in a position to succeed, unless they happen to perfectly mesh with his strict offensive system like Sabonis’ game has. With a chance to put his team back on top vs. the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Turner found himself wide open from mid-range with 2:39 left in the fourth. Cold from a lack of touches, and a consistent role on offense, he shot an air ball. Against a better team, those McMillan’s flaws become more pronounced. The Pacers cracked under the Sixers' pressure down the stretch. A fourth-quarter shot-clock violation and a pair of late giveaways contributed to 20 turnovers. All McMillan had to do was allow Turner some isolations on the wing or at the top of the key and run pick and pops so Turner could get his shot going. This would have allowed him to at least match the output of Al Horford, who made 6-of-8 shots for 15 points and only grabbed three rebounds. Horford has a consistent role he’s comfortable with, and as a result he made his open looks.. Horford didn't have to be Embiid, just as McMillan doesn't have to be Sabonis. The Sixers were more physical. Just see how Sabonis was obliterated twice on hard fouls from Embiid, the first one upgraded to a Flagrant 1. They didn’t allow easy buckets, and they didn't shy away from contact. “We knew it was going to be a tough game off a back-to-back,” Sabonis said. “This is one of the top teams in the East. We just didn’t execute enough in the end. They did a great job of pressuring us.” When teams have had success against the Pacers, they’ve been aggressive with trapping the ball and denying passing lanes because McMillan, inflexible with his offense, runs an extremely predictable offense running pick and rolls and low postups on every play. McMillan’s offense makes the stagnant Houston offense seem creative and varied, a feat worth mentioning. he was just McMillan had a rough start last season. Through Dec. 1, the Pacers had the 18th ranked offense, and a 13 and 10 record, mostly buoyed by Victor Oladipos league leading clutch performances, stealing multiple games. The ended 2018-19 going 16 and 23, despite Bojan Bogdonavich scoring an elite 22ppg, Thad Young and Myles Turner anchoring a third ranked team defense, and multiple shooters available to spread the court allowing for easy scores at the rim and in the midrange. Shooting struggles are both mental and a product of a players particular comfort within an offense. Sabonis, who’s scoring rate and efficiency is down this season from last, is still able to score at 19.4 points per 36 so far because he’s allowed operate in an offense that caters to his skillset. While he still struggles against good teams, posting a 9 game stretch with a very poor 51 true shooting percentage, his ability to smash mismatches is extremely valuable, allowing him to succeed as he’s allowed to play his game. McMillan has to be better, of course, but the Pacers remain in a good spot. This is the time for him to put his ego aside, and realize that the game is about the 10 players on the court, not the suits with clipboards, or executives plotting roster moves. There is still time to save Turner’s shattered confidence, and for once to do what coaches should do: do everything they can to allow players to succeed and do whatever it is they do best, whether it’s shooting, or attacking off the dribble, postups, rolls, pops, or defense. Forget Wins and Losses. See how each individual player is playing a role they’re comfortable with. That's not addressed by a stat sheet or wins and losses, that many times happen despite the coach, because of the talent on the floor. Coaches don’t make teams better, players ultimately decide whether a team wins or loses. But they can greatly hinder their teams potential. It's time to accept what McMillan is and isn't, and the more honest we are about his specific job as a leader (he’s a brilliant leader that has built a strong organization), at running lineups and rotations (which have been weak since he started Monta Ellis over CJ Miles), running offensive schemes that mesh with players skillsets (not opening up the lane for Oladipo, nor even attempting to utilize Myles Turner) the more likely public perception gradually changes, and there is pressure within the organization and on McMillan specifically to either evolve, or risk getting replaced. If ignoring wins and losses helps us understand better, so be it. There's rarely anything tangible to gain by using weak, dishonest arguments (such as W/L) that ignore the actual performance of the coach. (Yes, he gets paid multi million dollar contract to give orders, it is perfectly fine to hold him to a standard, especially when he can greatly affect the careers of players, of which everyone is watching, talking writing about in the first place) But we haven’t had nuanced discussion. Logic doesn't apply. Context is a foreign concept. Mean-spirited hot takes are the norm. Mocking fans for “living in the movement” and ignoring detailed critiques about the coaching that have continued over three years says more about media members with an influential platform and voice than they’ll ever say about a random fan hoping his trending hashtag might help save Myles Turner’s career.