Last season, the Indiana Pacers fired Head Coach Nate McMillan after losing four straight games in the first round to the Miami Heat. This season, with the Atlanta Hawks, McMillan has adopted a new coaching style. As a result, the Hawks have reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015. So why was he fired from Indiana, and how has he adapted?
When McMillian was still a coach for the Indiana Pacers, he was argumentative and didn't care much about how the players felt. Nate was asked to think about the emotional well-being of his players and let's say his response back than is not who he is now.
"I don't give a f**k about their feelings."Nate McMillan
In his four seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Nate McMillan had a record of 183-136. His coaching methods were bringing in results but did not quite resonate with the team. McMillan had an aggressive approach and often let his players hear it when they were not playing well. Ultimately, Nate McMillan has always wanted his players to play hard, but his methods at times had an opposite effect on players.
At the start of this season, Nate McMillan was an Assistant Coach for the Atlanta Hawks. However, McMillan became Interim Head Coach midway through the season as Lloyd Pierce was fired for a 14-20 season start. Since becoming the Head Coach, Nate McMillan has changed the way the team has played. First, he worked towards improving Atlanta's defense. Under Lloyd Pierce, the Atlanta Hawks had the lowest fourth-quarter defensive rating of 120.4. Since McMillan's takeover, the Atlanta Hawks went on a 27-11 run to end the season.
Nate McMillan has been able to lead the team back to a playoff spot. Most importantly, his change in coaching style has resulted in the emergence of crucial young stars like Trae Young and John Collins. A coach who once "didn't give an (expletive) about their [players] feelings." has now led a struggling team to the Eastern Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Hawks can pull through against the Milwaukee Bucks in a tough series.