INDIANAPOLIS — On Sunday night, Rick Carlisle gathered his team to talk about the goals for the next few weeks ahead of Monday’s media day, with the idea of “competitive integrity” being what he wanted his players to bring into camp.
Everyone expects the 2023 training camp to be some of the most competitive the Pacers have seen in years, with plenty of ability for guys to make a step up and earn their time.
Carlisle has tough decisions to make through training camp and preseason, with plenty of talent to go around. A lot of that will be sorted out during camp. but in his evaluations, the Pacers bench boss will look at shot-making, facilitating, defensive efficiency, as well as chemistry within the lineups.
Haliburton and Brown wanted to get a jump start on creating team chemistry by organizing a pre-training camp trip to Nashville. The team worked out at Vanderbilt and participated in group non-basketball activities.
Making shots has never been a problem for the Pacers, who finished last season tenth of the NBA’s 30 teams in points per game, so defense will be the biggest difference maker between what makes them a good team or a great team.
“If we can get in the top half of the NBA defensively, we’re going to make it into the playoffs,” said Tyrese Haliburton.
The additions of NBA Champion Bruce Brown Jr. and rookie Jarace Walker will be huge for the Pacers’ defensive efforts, but Carlisle wants defense to be the team’s main focus over the next month.
“There’s no one on our team who doesn’t have the ability to be better defensively,” said Carlisle. “I love the challenge, I embrace the challenge, and guys understand it’s extremely important.”
The Pacers open preseason play in Memphis on Sunday, Oct. 8. Tip-off against the Memphis Grizzlies is scheduled for 8 p.m.