View Full Version : Reggie's Role, Rebounds Key Issues for Pacers for Game 4

05-11-2004, 07:48 PM

PACERS (2-1) at MIAMI (1-2)
Wednesday, May 12
7:00 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena
Pacers Notes | Heat Notes
By Conrad Brunner
May 11, 2004 All of a sudden, the argument the Pacers really hadn't played that well despite winning the first two games has gained a whole lot of credibility.

All of a sudden, the Pacers are faced with something they have yet to confront in what had been a relative postseason cakewalk: real pressure.

"Now the pressure is on us to come in and try to get this game come Wednesday," said Jermaine O'Neal, "because you donít want to be in a situation where you go back 2-2. Thatís a tough situation to be in.Ē

After getting pushed around by Miami throughout a 94-87 loss in Game 3 on Monday night in AmericanAirlines Arena, the Pacers must confront some very real problems entering Game 4 Wednesday night. They are getting beaten consistently on the boards by a much smaller team, and their offense has yet to define itself . To correct those particular maladies, the team must turn to its two leaders, Reggie Miller and O'Neal.

In Game 2, Miller made the difference, scoring 19 points in 18 minutes as the Pacers took a 91-80 victory and a 2-0 series lead. In Game 3, he attempted just two shots in 26 minutes -- a postseason career-low. One of those was a desperation turnaround fadeaway 3-pointer from the right corner with 24 seconds left. To no one's surprise, it went in, cutting the Miami lead to 91-87, but it turned out to be the Pacers' final breath.

ďObviously, after what he did in (Game 2), they were paying extra attention to him," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "Some of that is on me as the coach. When you have a Hall-of-Fame player, youíve got to get him some shots. So Iíll take the blame for that. Weíre going to have to get Reggie more involved. I donít think thereís any question about it."

Miller had little to say about his lack of shots, but the importance of his involvement is obvious. Including the playoffs, the Pacers are 16-1 this season when he scores at least 15 points.

ďI did not have a lot of good looks," he said. " Iíve got to give Miami a lot of credit. Their defense was a lot better than it has been in the first two games.Ē

Perhaps distracted by a shooting slump that saw him hit 10 of 32 from the field in the first two games, O'Neal's rebounding has suffered. He's averaging 8.3 per game, nearly two below his regular-season average. This from a player who averaged an NBA franchise-record 17.5 rebounds against Boston last year. With O'Neal struggling, the team has lagged. The Pacers have been outrebounded 134-112. Miami has a 39-26 advantage on the offensive glass.

"We just have to have more effort. And mainly, itís on my back," O'Neal said. "I need to set the tone and get guys going and hopefully that makes us as a team go to the boards. If I am not being aggressive, getting the rebounds, itís almost like a virus."

The offense has been centered on O'Neal and Ron Artest, perhaps because the Pacers are trying too hard to take advantage of their size. The two All-Star forwards have combined to attempt 104 shots, more than half the team total (206), yet they're shooting a combined .365. The rest of the Pacers are a combined 51 of 102 from the field (.500).

"This is our first loss in the playoffs," Miller said of the Pacers, who won their first six postseason games by double figures, an NBA record. "We knew we were not going to go undefeated, and it was a matter of time, but we know we can play better. We have not played great at all in any of the games. We were fortunate to have homecourt advantage and win the first two, but we havenít played a full 48 minutes collectively as a group.Ē

Miami has been carried by rookie guard Dwyane Wade, who starts at the point but spends much of his time at shooting guard. He has averaged 22.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting .480. All three of the frontcourt starters -- Brian Grant (9.3), Lamar Odom (9.3) and Caron Butler (8.3) -- are outrebounding their Indiana counterparts.

"The Pacers took care of their home floor, which is what a team is supposed to do," said Wade. "We have to come in and take care of ours. We are taking it game for game. Right now we got one game in our house and we have one more coming up. Weíll try to get that one and go back to Indiana and see what we can do.Ē
Jamaal Tinsley is 12 of 16 from the field and 9 of 12 from the 3-point line in the series. ... Miller is 6 of 11 from the arc. ... Jeff Foster is averaging 7.7 rebounds in just 21.3 minutes. ... Anthony Johnson has committed just two turnovers in his last 115 minutes.
O'Neal and Artest have combined to shot .365 from the field. ... The bench has been outscored in two of three games. ... The Pacers have been outrebounded 134-112. ... Since scoring 19 points in Game 3 against Boston, Jonathan Bender has totaled 20 points in four games.
The reserves - This is supposed to be a prohibitive advantage for the Pacers, but it hasn't worked out that way. Though Indiana holds a slight advantage in bench scoring (75-72), the Pacers' second unit has been outscored in two of three games. For the offense to become more balanced, the second unit must step forward and offer far more substantial contributions. Al Harrington had 13 points in Game 3 -- and that was the first double-digit scoring night of the series for a reserve.
Pacers - C Jeff Foster (bruised right hip), G Fred Jones (left shoulder strain) and G Jamaal Tinsley (R ankle sprain) are probable.

Heat - C Brian Grant (mouth laceration) is probable.