On March 1st, 2021, the Atlanta Hawks were 14-20 and destined for another forgettable season. But then head coach Lloyd Pierce was fired and assistant coach, Nate McMillan, was promoted to interim coach.
That move saved their season and ultimately propelled the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals.
This is the same Nate McMillan who was named head coach of the Seattle Supersonics in 2000. In his five years in Seattle, McMillan amassed a record of 212-183 and led the Supersonics to the playoffs twice. In 2005, he took the head coaching job in Portland. That season, the Trailblazers went 21-61. But in each of the next three seasons, the team improved. Over his seven years with the team, he went 266-269 but failed to advance out of the first round of the playoffs in three playoff appearances.
McMillan was hired by the Indiana Pacers in 2013 as an assistant coach. Three years later he was named the team’s head coach. They made the playoffs in each of his four years at the helm. But once again, his team failed to advance past the first round.
Early playoff exits are an annoying slight on an otherwise good head coaching career (661-588, not including his current tenure with Atlanta). So what’s different now?
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