McDermott: Pacers Have Right Mindset to Succeed in Orlando

July 8, 2020 - On a Zoom call with reporters, Pacers forward Doug McDermott discussed the unique circumstances of the upcoming NBA season restart in Orlando and why he is confident in the Pacers' chances in the playoffs.

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McDermott: Pacers Have Right Mindset to Succeed in Orlando

July 8, 2020 - On a Zoom call with reporters, Pacers forward Doug McDermott discussed the unique circumstances of the upcoming NBA season restart in Orlando and why he is confident in the Pacers' chances in the playoffs.
Jul 8, 2020  |  03:14

Justin Holiday on Decision to Play in Orlando, Social Justice

July 7, 2020 - Pacers forward Justin Holiday discusses his decision to participate in the NBA season restart in Orlando and his recent essay in The Players' Tribune on using his platform to promote social justice.
Jul 7, 2020  |  03:56

Next Man Up Once Again for McMillan, Pacers

by Mark Montieth Writer

A week ago when he met with reporters, Pacers coach Nate McMillan thought Victor Oladipo would accompany the team to Orlando for the restart of the NBA season and decide there if he was physically fit to participate in the upcoming games.

Oladipo's subsequent announcement that he would sit out the games will require McMillan to decide how to utilize Oladipo amid his group of 17 players in the full-scale practice sessions leading up to the Pacers' first game on Aug. 1.

"His decision to make that call last week was his call," McMillan said, addressing the media via Zoom call for the first time since Oladipo made his announcement. "I guess he just didn't feel he would be ready to go. He has always planned to go down to Orlando and play five-on-five. He still plans to go down and work out and be involved in all the practices. There are no restrictions as far as his return."

McMillan expressed support of Oladipo's choice.

"Absolutely," he said. "We support...Victor on this decision. We've always taken that role. The player has to be mentally, physically ready to go. That's the same approach we took with Victor when he was returning the first time and that's the approach we'll take now. When he feels he's ready to go and we both agree to that...then we'll put him on the floor. But he feels he's not ready to play right now."

Oladipo missed the Pacers' first 47 games this season while recovering from the torn quad tendon he suffered during the 2018-19 season. He played in 13 of the 18 games that followed, sitting out five as a precautionary measure. His play steadily improved during that time, and he averaged 13.8 points on 47 percent shooting (40 percent from 3-point range) in his final five games before the shutdown.

The Pacers were 7-6 in the games in which he participated as he worked his way back into shape and they adjusted to his presence.

McMillan said he has not decided who will start in Oladipo's place, although the best guess would be Aaron Holiday based on his lineups earlier this season when Oladipo and Jeremy Lamb were not available. That would entail Malcolm Brogdon moving to shooting guard, which he mostly played in his three seasons with Milwaukee.

Brogdon had been placed in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, but McMillan said Wednesday Brogdon has been released. He will accompany the team to Orlando on Thursday if his latest test comes back with a negative diagnosis.

Brogdon, however, has not been able to engage in cardiovascular workouts during his quarantine, so he will have to be brought along slowly if he is allowed to play.

It's not a new development for the Pacers, given the number of games Oladipo, Lamb, and Brogdon have missed this season. They'll have to continue to dig deep into their bench to finish the season, perhaps utilizing players who would not be part of the playing rotation under normal circumstances. Fourteen players have started games for the Pacers this season.

"I've always told those guys to keep yourself ready to play because you never know when that opportunity is going to present itself," McMillan said.

"We've unfortunately had to play this way all season long. It's next man up for us."

McMillan's primary goal at the start of the season was to earn homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs. That is no longer a consideration because all games in Orlando will be played at a neutral site without fans in attendance.

The Pacers will resume play in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with Philadelphia but own the tiebreaker from having won two of the three earlier meetings. Their first game in Orlando will be against the 76ers, on Aug. 1.

They are two games back of Miami and have lost both games to the Heat this season. The two teams will meet twice more in Orlando, on Aug. 10 and 14.

Realistically, the Pacers can't finish any higher than fourth or drop any lower than sixth in the East, meaning their playoff opponent will be either Miami or Philadelphia if they finish fourth or fifth and either Boston or Toronto if they finish sixth. Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the remainder of the season, it's impossible to determine now which team would be the more favorable matchup for them.

McMillan, however, said his focus will remain on finishing as high as possible in the standings.

"We will be approaching those games to get ourselves ready for the playoffs, but we also have an opportunity to move out of (fifth place) or even drop from that position," he said.
"Our approach is going to be to try to win games. That's what we play for. Certainly, that first game against Philadelphia is an important game with both teams tied record-wise. We want to have ourselves ready for that first game."

PHOTO GALLERY: Pacers Prepare for Orlando with Individual Workouts »

Other points from McMillan's conference call:

• He said self-motivation will be more important than ever for the players, given the restricted environment in Orlando.

"We're packing for two or three months," he said. "There's no homecourt. You're going to be playing with no fans. We have some things we're going to try to do to keep our guys focused down there, but a lot of this is going to be self-motivating.

"Once you get there, it's all in. The focus has to be on why you are here."

• He believes the fact his practices are more rigorous than most NBA teams have will be an asset in Orlando, where there will be little to do but practice and play games. Having three hours allotted for practice on non-game days could be less of an adjustment for his team.

"We have intense practices," he said. "We work once we get out on the floor. A lot of teams don't practice anymore. A lot of teams pretty much have shootaround and don't have a lot of live scrimmaging, especially during the season.

"We should be OK competing in this type of environment."

• A photo tweeted of a breakfast meal delivered to one of the NBA players in Orlando on Wednesday caught the attention of several of the Pacers.

"Our guys have been screaming," McMillan said, laughing. "Everybody's going back and repacking their bags. We've got to put some snacks in our bags. That meal was a little skimpy."

• Scouting upcoming opponents will be limited, but available. Teams are permitted to have one person scout teams in other games, but only for those involving their next two opponents. The Pacers will have two video coordinators in Orlando breaking down games for coaches and players to view.

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Email him at and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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