The Indiana Pacers have been playing extremely poor basketball for the second half of the regular season, and played poorly once again in their Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. There are a few reasons for the poor play, including the play of George Hill and especially Roy Hibbert, but there is also a reason that hasn’t been brought up very often. Head coach Frank Vogel has been showing many poor qualities, and has done a terrible job of coaching team despite finishing with the best seed in the Eastern Conference.
What five reasons do the Pacers have to fire their head coach Frank Vogel?
1. Poor Rotations and Lack of Willingness to Change
Indiana is one of the deeper teams in the NBA, but Frank Vogel remains unwilling to give some of the players a chance to play and prove themselves. There are quite a few examples of this issue, but the Chris Copeland situation is the most obvious. In the two games that Copeland received right around 20 minutes per game, he scored 18 and 19 points respectively. One of the main issues with the Pacers down the stretch of the season has been their lack of offensive production. Luis Scola is the current backup power forward, and even when he has played poorly, Vogel has been unwilling to give Copeland a chance to play some minutes.
2. Lack of Feel for the Game
One of the most important things for a head coach to have in the NBA is a feel for the game. There are times in a game where momentum can switch incredibly fast or a substitution is needed or not needed, and Vogel doesn’t have either of those feels. He has continually and consistently subbed players out who were playing extremely well and also allowed leads to get out of hand due to lack of play-calling and timeouts. Vogel simply hasn’t improved in any aspect as far as feel for the game goes, and it has really hurt the Pacers at times during this struggle.
3. Inability to Keep Team Under Control
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Pacers’ collapse is the complete change of the team’s demeanor. At the beginning of the season, the players were on board with each other and supported each other with no doubts. Now, there are comments being thrown around in the locker room about teammates being selfish, and just overall chaos. While all of the game can’t be thrown onto Vogel’s shoulders, he does have to take his share of the blame. The locker room is also the coaches’ territory, and Vogel has not laid down the law and told the team how things are going to be. Every single player in that Indiana locker room believes that they can get away with anything they want, and they are unfortunately correct in that area.
4. No Rest for the Starters Even in Obvious Situations
One of the main excuses that the Pacers made for their poor play down the stretch of the season was their lack of rest throughout the course of the year. That certainly was part of the issue, but not the main one. Despite that fact, the Pacers should have been giving players some time off, especially in blowout performances if not sitting them for entire games here and there. All season long, Vogel has chosen to leave his starters in down the stretch of games, even when his team was up by 15 or more points. Quite simply, that type of coaching is not acceptable in the NBA and is flat out stupid.
5. Lack of Improvement in Any Category
There is no doubt that Vogel was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Pacers when he first took over for Jim O’Brien a few years back. He brought the “smashmouth” style of basketball that Indiana needed, and was able to motivated the players to take the next few steps towards returning to competitive basketball. Unfortunately, those are the only two things that he has brought to the Pacers, and he has not improved in any other area. Larry Bird has tried to get his attention and help him learn the ropes, but it seems as if Vogel has been unwilling to change his coaching personality. It’s easier said than done, but over the course of two complete seasons, he certainly should have improved in some aspect.
Overall, there are a lot of decisions to be made for the Pacers this coming offseason. It isn’t likely that Vogel will be fired if Indiana can figure things out starting immediately and get back to their winning ways, but if they lose to Atlanta in the first round it wouldn’t be too surprising. There are plenty of other options out there that could replace Vogel and do better things with the talent that Indiana has. This is certainly something that the Pacers need to look into, and it is worth keep an eye on as well over the next month or two.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.