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Will Galen
06-01-2004, 03:05 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/01/sports/basketball/01pacers.html?ex=1086753600&en=a5e1b2fc6970b858&ei=5043&partner=EXCITE


Bird Yearns for the Days When Players Could Shoot
By JASON DIAMOS

NDIANAPOLIS, May 31 - Larry Bird helped raise basketball to an art form as a Boston Celtic.

These days, as president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, Bird has been forced to watch some ugly basketball as the Pacers and the Detroit Pistons have set records for shooting futility in the Eastern Conference finals.

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Before Sunday night's Game 5, Bird was asked if he minded that the series was being called an eyesore.

"Not as long as we win," he said with a laugh.

The Pacers, however, shot 32.9 percent in Game 5 and lost, 83-65. Detroit can clinch the series at home Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Sunday night was the second time in the series the Pistons held the Pacers to their playoff scoring low. Not to be outdone, the Pacers have held the Pistons to their playoff low.

The Pacers, who are shooting 34.6 percent and averaging 74.2 points, were positively on fire during their Game 4 rout, in which they won, 83-68, by shooting 45.7 percent. The 47-year-old Bird put that statistic into perspective.

"Dennis Johnson used to shoot 44 percent and we thought he was a horrible shooter," Bird said, referring to a former teammate. "Right now, he'd be a great shooter."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Pacers' scoring average is the lowest in the conference finals since the 1954-55 season, the first year of the 24-second shot clock. The Pistons are not exactly shooting well, either. They are shooting 38.3 percent and averaging 76.4 points, the third-lowest scoring average in conference finals history. The Pacers and the Pistons have the distinction of averaging the lowest points per game in a conference finals during the shot-clock era.

Only one player, Detroit shooting guard Richard Hamilton, has been able to hit jump shots with any consistency.

He is the only player to average at least 20 points (24.2) and the only player to score at least 20 points in every game of the series.

On Sunday night, Hamilton, who established a career high in the playoffs with 33 points, nearly outscored Indiana's starting five. The Indiana starters shot a combined 14 for 50 (28 percent) and scored 39 points.

Hamilton, on the other hand, made 12 of 22 shots. For the series, he is shooting 47.5 percent (47 for 99). The rest of the Pistons are shooting an Indiana-like 34.8 percent (89 for 256).

"The thing that I see that's missing in our game is the midrange jumper," Bird said. "Guys either shoot the 3's or they take it all the way to the hole. Rip Hamilton is one guy who will pump fake, take a couple dribbles and hit the midrange jumper. You don't see it very often anymore.

"When I played, we all knew in the playoffs that our defense had to step up," said Bird, who won three championships and three Most Valuable Player awards. "You could score as many points as you want, but you still had to stop people. But the defense is definitely a lot better now."

That's not necessarily good for the game.

"I just think, for the fans, it's better to score points," Bird said. "Just like in hockey, if you can get more pucks going into the net, then I think it would be more interesting for the fans. But the thing is, everything is geared to defense."

It did not used to be that way, not when teams ran the floor like Bird's fast-breaking Celtics and their archrivals, Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers.

Not these Pacers and Pistons, who often seem at a loss about what to do in a fast-break opportunity. With that in mind, Bird was asked whether he would like to see the game return to its running roots, when the coaches did not have as much influence and control dictating halfcourt games.

"Everything goes in cycles," he said. "This might be a 10-year cycle, an 8-year cycle. Then you'll see teams come back, I guarantee you. These guys are so athletic."

It is their aesthetic that has been lacking in these conference finals.
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MSA2CF
06-01-2004, 08:39 AM
Bird Yearns for the Days When Players Could Shoot

Me too. :pray:

sweabs
06-01-2004, 10:16 AM
It's true - shooting percentages nowadays are lower. Whether you want to credit that to the opposing teams' defense, or just a lack of shooting ability on the players...

Today, it seems like everyone wants that superstar swingman on their team - that athletic guy who can do it all - drive to the basket, create their own shot, hit open shots, etc. Basically they go one-on-one against their defender which has eliminated the use of set-up plays in many instances. Before all this one-on-one, school your opponent streetball style and take the tough shot - it was all kinds of plays that were set up to get shooters the OPEN shot...but now it looks like we've gotten away from that.

MSA2CF
06-01-2004, 10:18 AM
Today, it seems like everyone wants that superstar swingman on their team - that athletic guy who can do it all - drive to the basket, create their own shot...

Like this:
http://www.nba.com/theater/video/artest_dunk_6_cc916.avi

:D

sweabs
06-01-2004, 10:21 AM
Today, it seems like everyone wants that superstar swingman on their team - that athletic guy who can do it all - drive to the basket, create their own shot...

Like this:
http://www.nba.com/theater/video/artest_dunk_6_cc916.avi

:D

Yeup!
I love Ronnie :dance: ...I hope we don't trade him.

Dukins
06-01-2004, 10:23 AM
Ithink nowadays it is almost a must you have a great swingman, given the athletic ability of every player on the court. Although Philly has a pretty good one in Kyle Korver he can straight shoot the light out. The Pacers better go for a shooting guard this year or ill ill scream. :nunchuck: :swordfight: :shout: :argue: :notlistening: