Nate McMillan’s new coaching style has the Atlanta Hawks flying in the post-season

DALLAS, TEXAS - MARCH 08: Head coach Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers during play against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on March 08, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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.

The turn-around

Apr 30, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan and guard Trae Young (11) react to the referee during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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2 responses to “Nate McMillan’s new coaching style has the Atlanta Hawks flying in the post-season”

  1. […] The Hawk’s defense has looked superb in the playoffs, which is a huge credit to Coach McMillan. Players, such as Trae Young or Bogdan Bogdanovic, are not known for their defense. However, Nate McMillan pushes his players to up their intensity on defense, and almost everyone looks like a decent defender. […]

  2. […] McMillan knew the young Hawks team would need to really grow up if they wanted to turn their season around. The Hawks entered the playoffs as the fifth seed in the East and went on an improbable postseason run. Atlanta got through the Knicks fairly easily and upset the number one seed 76ers in seven games. […]

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