Pacers coach Rick Carlisle says he didn't call timeout on late possession to let players decide Game 3

Andrew Nembhard committed a turnover with four seconds remaining

The Indiana Pacers face an insurmountable 3–0 series deficit in their Eastern Conference finals matchup with the Boston Celtics after Saturday's heartbreaking 114–111 loss in Indianapolis.

Indiana was without star Tyrese Haliburton, who was out with a hamstring injury, yet nearly pulled off a win over the Celtics with Andrew Nembhard scoring a career-high 32 points with nine assists. Unfortunately, Nembhard also played a role in the Pacers' final play, losing the ball to Boston's Jrue Holiday while down 112–111 with four seconds left.

Following the game, coach Rick Carlisle faced questions about why he didn't call a timeout to set up a play on the final possession, rather than taking the ball up the court after Jayson Tatum missed a layup attempt. As he explained, he thought it was better to let the players make a play in transition without Boston being able to set up a defense.

"With eight or nine seconds left and you’re in transition after a miss, I trust our players to be able to create a better shot than calling timeout and having them set their defense and run our end-of-game stuff on their video and show their players,” Carlisle said, via The Athletic. “It’s more of a play basketball-type situation, and we’ve done well this year, trusting our players.”

Indiana's players likely didn't have a problem with their coach letting them decide the outcome. Carlisle was angry that the officials didn't call a foul on Holiday, but Nembhard took responsibility for the turnover after the game.

Carlisle has had issues with timeouts in this series, however. The situation at the end of Game 3 recalled the coach's failure to call a timeout late in Game 1, when the Pacers had difficulty inbounding the ball. Indiana committed a turnover, giving Jaylen Brown the opportunity to hit a game-tying 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime. The Pacers eventually lost, 133–128.

"This loss is totally on me,” Carlisle said after Game 1. "With 10 seconds to go in regulation, we should have just taken the timeout, advanced the ball, found a way to get it in, made a free throw or two, and ended the game. But it didn’t happen."

Based on his comments, Carlisle doesn't regret his choice at the end of Game 3. However, with a 3–0 series deficit, he could soon have plenty of offseason time to contemplate his end-of-game strategy.