View Full Version : JO - "This series isn't over."

06-01-2004, 01:40 PM

For this incarnation of the Pacers, the stakes have never been higher, nor the challenge greater.
To continue their postseason, to keep alive their dream of winning an NBA Championship for Reggie Miller, they have no choice but to win in Detroit in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night in The Palace of Auburn Hills. Trailing 3-2, the Pacers face elimination with a loss. Leading 3-2, the Pistons will return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1990 with a victory.

"This series," said Jermaine O'Neal, "isn’t over."

To extend it to a seventh game at home -- something the Pacers have never experienced in their NBA existence -- Indiana must tear a page from the Pistons' script. In the second round, Detroit lost at home to the Nets in Game 5 to fall behind 3-2, then won in New Jersey in Game 6 and closed at the series at home in Game 7.

"We know the situation we’re in," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "We’ve got a choice. We can get back to the drawing board and figure out the things that have gotten us two wins in this series and concentrate on doing those better. Or we’ll go home, it’s as simple as that."

Of course, the Pistons believe they've already learned from that particular experience and know how to avoid a repeat.

"I think we’re a lot more prepared (than in the second round)," said Detroit's Richard Hamilton. "Coach is going to do a tremendous job of getting us mentally prepared for Game 6. We know where we want to go. That’s the biggest thing. We know what we want to get to. And in order for us to get there, we know there’s no better feeling than winning a game at home. The fans are going to be crazy, everybody in Detroit’s going to be crazy, and we’re going to feed off that. I know the guys are going to be ready. I know we’re going to put our hard hats on and do everything possible to come out with the win."

Everything that went right in the Pacers' 83-68 road victory in Game 4 went wrong in an 83-65 loss in Game 5 in Conseco Fieldhouse on Sunday night. The offense reverted to its stagnant form, setting a franchise record for fewest points in a playoff game while shooting below 34 percent for the fifth time in six games. Austin Croshere, who provided a major spark with 14 points as a surprise starter in Game 4, was shut out from the field in Game 5. Ron Artest, who appeared to snap out of a shooting slump in Game 4, fell right back into it in Game 5, going 4 of 15.

"We didn’t share the ball a lot (in Game 5)," said Jermaine O'Neal. "We found ourselves trying to make one-on-one plays from the perimeter and that puts us back in a tough situation with other games that we lost. ...

"We’ll see what type team we have in (Game 6)," O'Neal said. "We’ll see what group of guys we have in this locker room. When you lose, you’ve got to bring it. Right now, there’s really no tomorrow for us. We had that type edge going to Detroit but kind of coasted at home for some reason. Obviously, I’m hoping we get that same edge back come the next game. "

Injuries are another obstacle for the Pacers. O'Neal played nobly on a sprained left knee but did not have his usual offensive presence, taking 10 shots in 38 minutes and scoring 11 points. Jamaal Tinsley continued to play despite injuries to his left hamstring, knee and calf and was ineffective, going 3 of 13 from the field and missing all five of his 3-point attempts. Though Artest missed practice Monday with a migraine headache, he was expected to play Tuesday night.

"The injuries are tough, without question," Carlisle said. "Jermaine showed a lot of courage being out there. It’s a tough situation. It’s an injury that he’s had before and lot of guys wouldn’t have been out there after getting their knee drained in the locker room and all that kind of stuff. And it’s been rough on Tinsley. At the same time, we can’t make excuses. We said we weren’t going to be an excuse team. We’ve got plenty of other guys with the ability to step up. It just didn’t happen for us (in Game 5). That’s on me. A lot of these guys are here for the first time and they’ve got to have a better understanding of what this magnitude of game is about. We just didn’t, and you could tell by watching it."

Though they appear to comprehend the magnitude of Game 6, it remains to be seen what they can do about it, considering the physical adversity. With O'Neal at less than 100 percent, the small lineup with Croshere at power forward loses much of its effectiveness because the Pistons aren't as concerned about swarming the post. With Tinsley limping badly, his normally erratic jump shot has gone completely away and his ability to finish when he does break down the defense has been compromised.

Carlisle offered few clues after Monday's practice about the potential for tactical or physical changes in Game 6. He wouldn't confirm if Croshere would remain in the starting lineup and wouldn't discuss potential strategies for dealing with Hamilton, who has scored at least 20 points in every game of the series, capped by his 33-point outburst in Game 5.

But Carlisle didn't hesitate when asked about his team's ability to bounce back.

"When you have an opportunity like this, you embrace it," he said. "We're not here for moral victories. We're not here for a learning experience. We're here to win. ... And we're still in this thing to win, make no mistake. "

We've heard lots of talk, JO. Now it's time to back it up.

06-01-2004, 01:41 PM
Pff...what does he know....


06-01-2004, 01:42 PM
"This series," said Jermaine O'Neal, "isn’t over."

What? It isn't!? :jawdrop: