“We know we have a big mountain to climb. We’re not talking right now about winning the series. We’re talking about staying alive. You could a lot more than just this game if you don’t approach this game the right way,” McMillan said before Game 4 (1 p.m. ET, ABC). “… If you go out there and lay down and give them the game … you lose respect; there could be a lot of major changes. There could be a lot you could lose. The big thing is losing respect from your fan base and from fans all over.”
The Pacers will have to regroup to keep the first-round series going after they blew a 25-point halftime lead in Game 3 on Thursday.
Some of the long-term ramifications of a poor playoff showing could center on Paul George. The All-Star forward has been noncommittal about signing a lucrative contract extension with the Pacers, and he could opt out and become a free agent after the 2017-18 season.
Indiana is one loss away from being eliminated by a LeBron James team for the fourth time in six years. That includes a pair of losses to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and 2014.
“Since I came here, LeBron has been in the way of this organization — getting to the Finals when Lance [Stephenson] was here,” McMillan said. “So there are a lot of challenges for us to play for.”
The Pacers have never endured a four-game sweep in the NBA.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.