PDA

View Full Version : O'Neal eager to adjust to Pacers



Will Galen
04-10-2005, 03:11 AM
http://www.indystar.com/articles/0/235806-5310-179.html

O'Neal eager to adjust to Pacers
Jermaine O'Neal is pleased with the play of the Pacers, who have gone 13-5 since he was sidelined. -- Sam Riche / The Star

By Mark Montieth
mark.montieth@indystar.com
April 10, 2005


Jermaine O'Neal sees what's going on. He sees the chemistry, sees the spirit and, most obvious of all, sees the results.

The objective now for the Indiana Pacers' leading scorer and four-time All-Star is simple: Don't be the one to mess it up.

O'Neal plans to return to the Pacers' lineup sometime this season, whether it's the final week of the regular season or in the playoffs. When that happens, the Pacers will face a peculiar dilemma.

Their offense has been more balanced, more active and, in the opinion of many fans, more entertaining since O'Neal went down with a sprained shoulder in a game at Denver on March 3. They've gone 13-5 since then, and take a six-game winning streak into today's game against New York at Conseco Fieldhouse.

On the other hand, a team can't turn its back on someone who averages 24.8 points per game, dropped 55 points in a win over Milwaukee earlier this season and offers their only consistent low-post scoring threat.

So what do they do when O'Neal returns? It appears everyone is in agreement, including O'Neal: Work him into the current system, rather than building the system around him.

"I want it to be equal-opportunity," O'Neal said. "I don't want to break the chemistry. What we have is too special and too good right now. It's hard for the defense to play us right now.

"If you add a guy you can throw it to in the low-post every now and then, that makes us that much tougher. If you take a team and say we're going to give it to this guy every time, that defeats what we have in this locker room. I don't want to do that."

O'Neal doesn't know yet when he'll be ready to play again, but he's pleased with his progress. He went through his most difficult workout since his injury on Thursday, spending 90 minutes on the court, then lifting weights and undergoing therapy on his shoulder. He was sore Friday, but felt better Saturday. He plans to begin contact drills in Monday's shootaround before the game in Toronto.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle already has begun prepping for O'Neal's return. He kept O'Neal, Ron Artest, James Jones, Eddie Gill and John Edwards after practice Thursday to run through the offensive sets. The sole purpose was to help O'Neal learn the five or six elements that have changed since he was injured.

If and when O'Neal does return, Carlisle doesn't foresee a difficult adjustment period.

"It would be very easy just to plug him in to what we're doing now," Carlisle said. "We're doing a lot of pin-down actions for Reggie (Miller) and Steve Jackson. It would be very easy to plug Jermaine in as a post option at the end of those things."

That doesn't mean O'Neal will become an afterthought, however. Title contenders almost always have low-post scoring threats who can draw double-teams and create opportunities for teammates, and the Pacers will be happy to have one again. What they're hoping for is the best of both worlds -- a balanced, active offense with a go-to presence close to the basket.

"Anytime you put a key player back in the mix, everybody's going to have to change a little bit," Fred Jones said. "When he comes back, we'll lean on him a lot. But we can't just give up our whole style of play. For him to be successful, he has to have us play the way we've been playing. Then that will open up a lot of opportunities for him."

O'Neal can't suppress a smile when talking about the lineup that awaits him. His injury caused him to miss the acquisition of Dale Davis -- the player the Pacers traded to get O'Neal in August 2000 -- by one game. He recalls the excitement he felt when he saw a jersey for Davis in a gym bag in the locker room before the game in Denver. Just missing Davis' arrival made his frustration that much worse.

"I wanted to tear the locker room up," he said.

The Pacers are eager to see how Davis and O'Neal play together. The hope is that it will be similar to how Davis and Rik Smits once fit. Davis does most of the dirty work around the basket, which could free O'Neal from defending the opponent's best low-post scoring threat and allow him more freedom at both ends.

"I think they're made for each other," Walsh said. "I really do."

O'Neal smiles when talking about playing with Davis. The smile widens when he talks about what might lie ahead for the Pacers. They're winning now. He'll be back at some point. Jamaal Tinsley could return, too. Then, suddenly, all the injuries and suspensions that have made this season so difficult become a positive because they'll have fresher legs than other teams, not to mention a chip on their shoulder.

"Once we get into the playoffs, if we continue the same thought process and the same approach to the game, it's going to be a long playoff run for us," O'Neal said. "I feel it. We feel it. We understand that if we get in, we bring something else to the table.

"It couldn't happen any better for us than it is right now."

Will Galen
04-10-2005, 03:15 AM
http://www.indystar.com/articles/1/235721-7681-179.html

Bench coming on strong

Stephen Jackson and Reggie Miller are getting the majority of credit for the Indiana Pacers' surge, but the bench has played a significant part in the team's six-game winning streak.

Led by Austin Croshere and Fred Jones, the reserves have allowed Pacers coach Rick Carlisle to give the starters an extended amount of rest without suffering a significant drop-off.

"They're getting minutes because they're earning minutes," Carlisle said. "If those guys weren't playing well, it would be hard to make a case to play them minutes. It's good when you get a group like that off the bench that can get and hold leads."

The bench contributed 37 points in the Pacers' victory over Washington on Friday. Croshere and Jones, who combined to score 22 points, went 2-for-17 from the field, but they made up for it at the free throw line, making 17-of-20 attempts. Forward James Jones also has stepped up recently by making key shots in the Pacers' two wins over Washington in the past week.

Jermaniac
04-10-2005, 03:23 AM
O'Neal can't suppress a smile when talking about the lineup that awaits him. His injury caused him to miss the acquisition of Dale Davis -- the player the Pacers traded to get O'Neal in August 2000 -- by one game. He recalls the excitement he felt when he saw a jersey for Davis in a gym bag in the locker room before the game in Denver. Just missing Davis' arrival made his frustration that much worse.

"I wanted to tear the locker room up," he said.

The Pacers are eager to see how Davis and O'Neal play together. The hope is that it will be similar to how Davis and Rik Smits once fit. Davis does most of the dirty work around the basket, which could free O'Neal from defending the opponent's best low-post scoring threat and allow him more freedom at both ends.

"I think they're made for each other," Walsh said. "I really do."

I love that, I cant wait to see them on the court together. I hope JO comes back a little early and comes of the bench for about 10-15 minutes a game the last 3 or so games of they year so he can get some play time in the new offensive style. I also liked the part where it said Ron,JO,Edwards,Gill and JJ stayed for extra practice to help JO learn the new offense. Good to hear Ronnie is still practicing with the team all the time.

NorCal_Pacerfan
04-10-2005, 04:06 AM
Great read. What's happened to this team is a great example of something great coming from adversity. What this team will have when JO returns is a balance that they may have never experienced without his injury. I too am excited to see JO and Davis on the court together. I would love to see them, Reggie and JT all together for the first time. It's going to be something special. And getting JO back for the playoffs with fresh legs could really be a boost for the run. This could be one of the more exciting postseasons for the Pacers. I have a good feeling about this.

I know Reggie's gone after this season. But I can't help to wonder if he would've played it differently if Davis would've come on board prior to his announcement?

Mourning
04-10-2005, 05:18 AM
Well maybe Tins and J.O. (IF Tins will be able return in time for the playoffs) will have fresher legs, but they will also have been out of the game, so they don't have a game rhythm which makes it a little risky to start giving them starters minutes immediately, also with the thought of trying to prevent re-injurying them again, but the "will" to play them starters minutes faster than what maybe wise will surely be there. I wonder how long before Rick gives them 30+ minutes.

Regards,

Mourning :cool:

DEEman
04-10-2005, 05:47 AM
That doesn't mean O'Neal will become an afterthought, however. Title contenders almost always have low-post scoring threats who can draw double-teams and create opportunities for teammates, and the Pacers will be happy to have one again. What they're hoping for is the best of both worlds -- a balanced, active offense with a go-to presence close to the basket.

I guess this could happen.

Before the injury, Jax en Reggie didnt had the confidence they have now. When JO comes back why should they pass the ball to JO all the time again? Why should they do that when they will be more open on the floor? With better looks then they were getting till now. I just cant imagine they will go back to those bad habits

Jose Slaughter
04-10-2005, 06:58 AM
This is the most important paragraph in the whole story.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle already has begun prepping for O'Neal's return. He kept O'Neal, Ron Artest, James Jones, Eddie Gill and John Edwards after practice Thursday to run through the offensive sets. The sole purpose was to help O'Neal learn the five or six elements that have changed since he was injured

It's not talking about what O'Neal does or doesn't want to do. It's stating what Carlisle is doing!

He will keep the offense the same & add O'Neal to what we are doing now.

Could someone slow up the bandwagon a bit, I think I'd like to get on now.

MSA2CF
04-10-2005, 08:10 AM
They can say it all they want, but until he's back and I see that he's really going to defer, :indifference:.

ImCrazyB
04-10-2005, 09:27 AM
Well, If JO learns how to pass like Chris Webber to Reggie and Stephen while they come off screens, We will win the Eastern Conference.

Seeing as how that wont happen, I think alot of it is up to AJ to keep the team chemistry going. JO is also going to have to take a lesson from DD in setting strong hard screens.

hoopsforlife
04-10-2005, 09:57 AM
"On the other hand, a team can't turn its back on someone who averages 24.8 points per game, dropped 55 points in a win over Milwaukee earlier this season and offers their only consistent low-post scoring threat."

Especially if he's being paid a hundred million dollars. lol

Harmonica
04-10-2005, 10:45 AM
For all the concern expressed here about how JO's return might disrupt the team's chemistry, don't delude yourselves into thinking we can make a deep run in the playoffs without him. And let's not forget we haven't seen Jermaine and DD play together. They are going to be a tough tandem on the inside.

Anthem
04-10-2005, 12:57 PM
"I want it to be equal-opportunity," O'Neal said. "I don't want to break the chemistry. What we have is too special and too good right now. It's hard for the defense to play us right now.

"If you add a guy you can throw it to in the low-post every now and then, that makes us that much tougher. If you take a team and say we're going to give it to this guy every time, that defeats what we have in this locker room. I don't want to do that."

Hey, he's at least saying the right things. We'll see how it works when he comes back, but I'd really like to see this happen.

ReggieMiller8325
04-10-2005, 01:15 PM
Good read hope Oneal gets adjusted to the system.

Arcadian
04-10-2005, 05:33 PM
I think JO gets to much of the blame of Rick's decision to go though him. JO only does what Rick asks him to do. Unless Reggie has been breaking plays the last couple of years by repeatedly dumping the ball into the post.

Jermaniac
04-10-2005, 05:43 PM
You are right and thats what I have been saying.Why the hell do people blame Jermaine for this? Rick calls the plays for JO, and tells the team to pass the ball to him down low.