Pacers Owe One To Bird, To Selves





INDIANAPOLIS – Forty-eight minutes to get it right.

The Indiana Pacers have 48 minutes of basketball left to finish off this 2011-12 season and postseason in a way that befits all they achieved. They might, in fact, be able to push that number to 96 or even well beyond, if they can manage to survive and advance from their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.

For now, though, they have Game 6 Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Forty-eight minutes to get it right, win or lose.

That’s the thing now, it isn’t even a matter of beating Miami, a huge task now that they trail in the best-of-seven series down 3-2. The Pacers have been called out by the top-ranking basketball executive in their organization, who also happens to be their resident NBA legend, who happens to be Larry Bird.

Bird, the team president, was so annoyed by what he saw in Indiana’s 115-83 loss in Game 5 Tuesday – the worst beating in Pacers playoff history – that he sought out the beat writer for The Indianapolis Star early Wednesday morning to make his feelings known. “I can’t believe my team went soft,” Bird said in a phone call to reporter Mike Wells. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”

Well then. So much for that 42-24 record and No. 3 seed in the East in the lockout-shortened season. Enough about the strides the deep and developing Pacers made from December through April. The taste that will stick in their mouths, the words that will ring in their ears are what the great Bird said in the wee hours and the sense that they have let themselves get punked.

Not, it’s worth noting here, just assaulted and battered in the 2-for-1 exchange of flagrant physicality that favored Miami. Getting hit and hit hard – Dwyane Wade by Tyler Hansbrough, Hansbrough by Udonis Haslem and Lance Stephenson by Dexter Pittman – those were incidents in the moment that couldn’t have been addressed further (after the game officials botched two of the three rulings, it says here) without serious mayhem.

What the Pacers have to set right when they play what might be their last game together in a long while is the stuff of identity and pride and toughness. They need to deploy the advantages they have had over the Heat and so many others – center Roy Hibbert and power forward David West – the way they did in Games 2 and 3. They need to show the resiliency that their coach, Frank Vogel, has preached to them since before he got the top job. They don’t need to hit or hurt a soul, but they do need to push back when pushed – in the game, on the scoreboard – and not whimper off into summer.

They owe that to Bird, they owe that to themselves.

“I agree with his assessment. We did play soft,” said Danny Granger, the yappy forward whose comments earlier in the series partly fueled Game 5′s antics. “We got smacked around. We got beat up, we got bullied, and we really didn’t respond well.

“I’ve been with Larry since I’ve been in Indiana for seven years. He’s not been one to hold his tongue, and 99 percent of the time what he’s saying is right. I think he just called out what everyone else saw. We played a soft game. We didn’t play with the playoff intensity that we needed to win.”

Guard George Hill shrugged it off. “If he feels like we’re soft, we’re soft then,” he said after the team’s practice in Miami, prior to a flight home.

So there was mixed reaction to Bird’s shot within the Pacers’ ranks Wednesday, when they practiced in Miami prior to a flight home. But there needs to be none by 8 p.m. Thursday.

24 Comments

  1. bob!! says:

    Celtics The Best hands down!

  2. Killa! says:

    @chuppachups u moron chup. All yo haters r bunch of funny Lil sisisisis. Philly taking Boston to 7 games n what do u think Miami is gonna do to Boston? Oh wait Philly is way better then Miami? Really?
    Gaaaah!

  3. chuppachupchups says:

    The Heat may survive the Miami-Indiana series.. But I don’t think they will win the next series against either the Celtics or Sixers!! They would neither bring the Larry O’Brien trophy home to Miami! Haha!! Go on Lebron!! keep dreamin’…….. Lebron may top all the stats..nobody can carry the whole team alone not even you Lebron!! Wade and Bosh together with Lebron is good thing..but not better to win multiple championships as you have all said!! Well, how I wish you can win one!!!!!hahahahahaha..

  4. NBAfan4LYF says:

    BOTH teams had their faults, lets stop siding on who was right and who was wrong.. hell we know that BOTH teams have stuff to answer for, We should remember, we’re not the ones playing, we’re the ones WATCHING. So lets keep it at that. Let the players do their thing. They win, they lose. This is what basketball games come down to, nothing else..

    i damn love this game. XD

  5. Western Conference Newbie says:

    People in the Eastern Conference play some weird basketball.

  6. smith says:

    wahahahah you started it,, and now where gonna finish it,,, lol pitman right on the neck
    wahaha real time choking ,,,,,,

  7. 305 says:

    good luck Pacers, the Heat are gonna bring it and send all the Indiana fans home weepin’

  8. Hunter says:

    I think the league as a whole does not understand it’s self, it doesn’t have an identity. It’s either getting TOO SOFT or TOO THUG. As a fan I don’t know whether it’s the times or just the fact that this league maybe just isnt what it used to be.

  9. cherrypopper says:

    this was the first game i watched in this series and i saw some of the worst basketball in recent memory, just plain awful, basically why the nba is ridiculed in serious circles

    • NBAfan says:

      serious circles?

    • Geo says:

      Yeah…please expand on serious circles, you talking about your moms knittin club????
      Some of the plays were dirty, but how is this any different from the average NHL or NFL game?

  10. Rene says:

    I’m really disliking this Pacer’s team right now. This is the first time I’ve been watching them in the past years so I don’t know if they were always like this, but Granger (the yappy forward) really annoys me with his trash talking antics. You ain’t Reggie Miller, and you never will be Reggie Miller. Also, Hansborough’s handshake with his teammate after he fouled Dwyane Wade like that annoyed me too. It’s not tough basketball they’re playing, it’s thug basketball.

  11. Dru.T says:

    our team did play soft. it’s frustrating because miami heat were pulling WWF moves on the court. they played dirty. we played soft. plain and simple. next time wade shoots a jump shot, put your foot in place where he will land on it. make sure lbj and wade leave on a wheel chair. it was pathetic. first time all season i felt sorry to be a pacers fan. i don’t know if this makes sense but play hard fellas, knock their teeths out. show them you are the better, more physical team. it’s simple. let’s go pacers!!! stephenson, you’re a beast!!! next time when we blow them out and ur playing in garbage time, make sure you injure someone on their team. if not, you’re all soft. if you don’t look out for each other, no one else will. thanks bird for caling the team what they are.

    p.s. paul george, you are not a point guard. you shouldn’t be handling the ball that much. i know the coach lets you, but everyone needs to realize you are not good at that, not right now, i know you will bein the future, but not right now.

    again, let’s go pacers , please don’t be soft.

    - die hard fan since 1997.

  12. Bev says:

    Larry Bird needs to stop inspiring violence. After all, it was HIS TEAM that started it by giving Haslem 9 stiches and almost putting out is eye !!
    And that should have been a FLAGRANT FOUL !!
    What do you expect? This is the finals !! You can not start fighting on guys and don’t expect to get hit back !!

    Larry, why don’t you go on the court and take a few punches !!

    Bev

    • Hunter says:

      I kind’ve agree, this has been physical enough, but am dissapointed by them dropping two straight games.

    • kaare says:

      its not the finals. its the playoffs.

    • Jonathan says:

      Are you serious? Did you watch Amundson’s offensive foul? It was a basketball play. What was flagrant about it? He had the ball up over his head, Haslem was playing good defense, and his face met Amundson’s elbow. Offensive foul, yes, but flagrant? Ridiculous. Now Hansrough’s foul on Wade in Game 5, definitely flagrant, but still a play on the ball. (You practically have to rip Wade’s head off to keep him from getting the And 1 every time.) Haslem obviously wasn’t going for the ball, and Pittman got off WAY too easy as his hit could have SERIOUSLY hurt Stephenson.

  13. I love how Bird stays under the radar and doesn’t say much. But, I especially love him speaking up last night. It was very true and the Pacers needed to hear it from him. It doesn’t mean anything coming from anyone else. Game 6 is gonna be an absolute dog fight.

    Check out my blog:

    http://www.nbainsight.com

  14. The pacers are not going to win the heat are to good for the pacers.

    • NBAfan says:

      The Pacers as a team is better than the Heat as a team…maybe you meant that Lebron AND Wade (and Bosh if he wasn’t injured) are too good for the Pacers….

      • You can say that but the heat as a team is better, and threre defense energy is just better, the pacers have talent but know experince and the playoff pressure is getting to the pacers the heat are just getting better why the pacers are getting worse.