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Thread: Pacers insider

  1. #1

    Default Pacers insider

    Hey...there is an article on the pacers...can someone post that?

    http://proxy.espn.go.com/nba/playoff...ory?id=1795904
    Don't ask Marvin Harrison what he did during the bye week. "Batman never told where the Bat Cave is," he explained.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Pacers insider

    Here's 05-06, can't help with the Pacers article:

    Is 2005 the year of the Kwame?

    By Chad Ford
    NBA Insider
    Send an Email to Chad Ford Thursday, May 6

    Will the real Kwame Brown please stand up?

    After three years of watching and hand wringing, the Wizards would like to know who the kid they drafted with the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft really is.

    Is he the Kwame Brown who dropped 30 and 19 on the Kings' Chris Webber? The Kwame who scored 25 points and grabbed nine boards against the Pacers' Jermaine O'Neal. That's the Brown the Wizards thought they were getting when Brown told Michael Jordan that he never would regret taking him.

    Summer Blueprints
    What will your team be up to this summer? NBA Insider Chad Ford breaks it down

    # Phoenix Suns
    # Cleveland Cavaliers
    # Seattle Supersonics
    # Chicago Bulls
    # Golden State Warriors
    # Los Angeles Clippers
    # Orlando Magic
    # Boston Celtics
    # Portland Trail Blazers
    # Charlotte Bobcats
    # 2004 Free agents

    Or maybe Kwame is the kid who had zero points and three boards against the Jazz in 29 minutes of play. Or perhaps he's the kid who managed just three points and three boards against the Suns. If that's the Kwame the Wizards are stuck with . . . things are going to get ugly.

    The problem in Washington -- and it's a big one -- is that the Wizards, three years into Brown's career, still aren't sure who their cornerstone really is. The Bulls, who drafted two high school kids in 2001, are going through the same growing pains.

    How long do you wait before you give up? How much patience can a struggling franchise have? If Grunfeld trades Brown now, and he turns into Jermaine O'Neal next year . . . he loses his job. If he hangs onto Brown for another two years, only to find out that he's fool's gold . . . he loses his job.

    Ah, the joys of being in charge of young, teenage millionaires.


    Kwame Brown
    Power Forward
    Washington Wizards
    Profile


    2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
    GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    74 10.9 7.4 1.5 .489 .683

    All of the pressure, ideally, shouldn't be on Kwame's shoulders, but it is. The Wizards have a stocked backcourt filled with scorers and defenders. It's the frontcourt that keeps coming up short. The Wizards need to improve it, but nothing they can do this summer will help as much as getting Brown to play up to his billing on a consistent basis.

    There are no free agents out there with his upside. No one in the draft ready to come in and do what he's capable of doing. The mantle of the Wizards once rested firmly on Michael Jordan's back. Now it's on Kwame's. There's no escaping it now. If he fails, the Wizards do too. If he develops, the Wizards will be a force to be reckoned with.

    Can the Wizards' front office do anything to determine his path? Here's a look at what to expect as Insider continues its summer blueprint series.

    Wizards Summer Blueprint

    DRAFT: The Wizards currently hold the third pick in the draft and have a 15.7 percent overall of landing No. 1. They need the help. Despite years in the lottery, the Wizards still need help in the frontcourt. A player like Emeka Okafor or Luol Deng would be another good fit in Washington.

    Okafor would give the Wizards the type of blue collar work ethic in the paint that Brendan Haywood and Brown haven't been able to provide. The Wizards have drafted two small forwards the past two drafts -- Jared Jeffries and Jarvis Hayes -- but Deng is on a different level from either player.

    The Wizards will also consider trading this pick. The team has plenty of young players and really needs another star in the frontcourt to anchor some pretty solid backcourt play. The team, especially if it doesn't land one of the top three picks, may try to package it along with Christian Laettner to the Bobcats. Laettner has just one year left on his deal and the Bobcats could use the extra talent. The extra cap room they would get could come in handy in free agency.

    FREE AGENCY: The team has only one significant free agent, Etan Thomas. Thomas is a restricted free agent who had the best year of his career in Washington last season. He can be tough around the basket, but injuries have limited his progress throughout his career. The Wizards would like to re-sign him, but won't break the bank to do it.


    Etan Thomas
    Forward-Center
    Washington Wizards
    Profile


    2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
    GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    79 8.9 6.7 0.9 .489 .647

    As far as cap room goes, the team will be a few million under the cap once you figure in the cap hold for their first-round pick. However, if the Wizards can find a way to move a big salary off the books (along with their first-round pick) in the expansion draft (Laettner, Jerry Stackhouse and even Larry Hughes are possibilities), they could get around $10 million under the cap. That would give them plenty of room to make a run at a veteran big man to play alongside Brown.

    The problem for Washington is that there aren't a lot of great ones available. Erick Dampier, Mehmet Okur, Vlade Divac, Marcus Camby and Mark Blount top the list. All could make a difference in Washington, but none is a perfect fit. Coach Eddie Jordan could also talk GM Ernie Grunfeld into making a run a Kenyon Martin this summer. The Nets have been balking at Martin's asking price, and his familiarity and devotion to Jordan could make for an interesting fit. If the Wizards really do have $10 million to work with . . . they could afford it and then use Brown as bait to land a center or small forward in return.

    TRADES: Look for the Wizards to try to move Stackhouse this summer. He was injured most of the season and the Wizards were happy with how Hughes and Hayes played in his absence.


    Jerry Stackhouse
    Guard-Forward
    Washington Wizards
    Profile


    2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
    GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    26 13.9 3.6 4.0 .399 .806

    Is Stackhouse tradable? He has three years, $25 million left on his contract. That's not an unreasonable amount. If the Wizards were willing to swallow a big contract in return, they might find a taker.

    Brown remains their most tradeable commodity. He showed enough flashes of greatness last season to keep teams very interested in him. While Brown still appears to lack the fire to be a go-to guy on any team, his skills at his size are undeniable. The Wizards won't give him away, but if they can get significantly better in the process, they have to consider it.

    The team may also make a decision between Jeffries and Hayes. They don't need both players. Hayes is a better fit in Washington's system, meaning that Jeffries should keep his bags packed.

    COACHING: Jordan is the man. He was the brains behind the Nets' free-flowing offense and eventually, with the right players, you'll see the Wizards flowing too. He just needs more time and few changes to get things in place. The Wizards are committed to him. How weird does that sound given that we are talking about the Eastern Conference here.

    FRONT OFFICE: Ernie Grunfeld is one of the best GMs in the league. He spent the past year sitting back, assessing what the team had. Don't be surprised if he now rolls up his sleeves and starts making changes. The team has too many guards and too many young players. He needs to swap some of that for some veteran low-post players to surround Kwame with. Grunfeld has a knack for finding talent and he'll do something to address the issue this year.

    Despite the mounting losses, the future in Washington should be bright. Brown still has the potential to be a star. Arenas too. The rest of the supporting cast are assets that can be moved for the right pieces. There's still a lot of work to be done in Washington, but a 35-win season for the Wizards next season should be possible.

    Heat will rest when season ends

    By Terry Brown
    NBA Insider
    Thursday, May 6
    Updated: May 6
    1:47 PM ET

    If the Miami Heat thought Game 7 of the first round was tough, they're about to find out how hard their 90th game of the season can be when facing an Indiana Pacers team that's had 11 days of rest.

    "They're dealing with their dilemma and we're dealing with ours," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said in the Palm Beach Post. "The challenge for us right now is to make sure we do enough to make sure we're prepared without overwhelming guys."

    Here's why.

    Lamar Odom has already played the fourth-most minutes in the playoffs of all participants thus far. Caron Butler has played the fifth-most. Eddie Jones has played the sixth-most and Dwyane Wade has played the seventh-most.

    And they're all Miami Heat.

    Less than 46 hours after defeating the New Orleans Hornets in the seventh game of their first-round series, the Heat are in Indiana for their first game of the second round. This may be just another game for a group of seasoned veterans accustomed to the rigors of NBA playoff basketball, but for Wade, it's the eighth playoff game of his life.

    "Dwyane thinks this is life in the NBA," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "You come in, you get into the playoffs, you move on."

    It what may seem like yesterday, he was guarding Baron Davis. Tonight, he is guarding Jamaal Tinsley. Tomorrow, he'll be wondering what to do when he gets rubbed off on a Ron Artest screen after running into Jermaine O'Neal on the other end of the court.

    After two years in Marquette, this rookie sensation started his NBA season by losing his first seven games as a professional. The Heat were the last team in the entire league to win a game.


    Lamar Odom is tired, but you won't hear him or any Heat player complain about the playoff grind.
    They lost at Philly. They lost at Boston. They lost to Detroit. They lost at Dallas. They lost at San Antonio. They lost to Minnesota. They lost at Houston.

    It took 16 days from the beginning of the regular season before the Heat won their first game and they had to go into overtime to win their second.

    It took until April 7 and 78 games just to get to .500 for the first time all year.

    Forty-two wins later, the Heat finished the regular season as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. But not before Wade sat out 13 games due to a bruised right wrist, small forward Butler struggled to recover from offseason surgery to his left knee, newly signed Odom pushed on to more minutes than he played the previous two seasons combined and Jones suffered the worst shooting season of his career.

    Wade scored just over 1,200 points in two seasons at Marquette. His next basket tonight will give him 1,101 this year alone.

    And how do you think Odom feels?

    He played in only 49 games last year. He played in only 29 the year before that. He injured this wrist, that ankle and was suspended for violating terms of the league's drug policy.

    The point is, he's about to play his 88th game of the season after playing only 78 in the last two years.

    He's never been to the playoffs, much less the second round. Neither has Butler, who took until Jan. 2 to score back-to-back double-digit games this year and that was 10 against the Knicks and 12 against the Magic. Back-up forward Udonis Haslem is a rookie like Wade. This year, his Florida Gators team played 31 games while he is about to play in his 83rd.

    Sixthman Rafer Alston never played in more than 50 games before this year and never more than 980 minutes in a season. This year alone, he played in 82 regular-season games and 2,581 minutes.

    About the only Heat player with any postseason experience averaging more than nine points a game is Jones, and he may have already played too many. The 10-year veteran is coming off a season in which he shot only 40.9 percent and sinking.

    Jones started the season averaging 21 points per game in November. By April, he was down to 12.7. In January, he shot 43.5 percent from the field. In February, he was down to 42.1 percent. In March, it was 41.4 percent. By April, he had fallen to 35.4 percent.

    So far in the playoffs, Jones is averaging 15 points per game on 37.6 percent shooting.

    Needless to say, this has been a long season for Jones. It has been a long season for the Heat. And while the Pacers haven't played a game decided by fewer than 10 points since April 7, this Miami squad, nonetheless, seems to only thrive the harder it gets and can only hope the season gets even longer.

    "This is my favorite team I have ever played for," said Brian Grant in the Miami Herald. "We started 0-7 . . . and people were telling us it was going to be the worst year ever."

    Now, it only hurts when they celebrate.

    * Series pits wired-but-weary vs. rested-but-rusty
    Tom D'Angelo / Palm Beach Post
    * Staying relaxed
    Barry Jackson / Miami Herald
    * Wade a rookie no longer
    Dave George / Palm Beach Post

    Peep Show

    NBA Insider
    Thursday, May 6
    Updated: May 6
    9:30 AM ET


    Miller
    Indiana Pacers: Reggie Miller is glad he stuck around Indiana. "I could have been a reluctant superstar and fought the transition," Miller said in the Indianapolis Star. "But for this franchise to remain at the top, and it will once I'm gone, someone had to defer and step back. It happens in every walk of life." But that's a lot easier to say than do. "Well, that's true," he said. "But I knew if I didn't step back and nurture and teach -- if I cried that I wanted the ball and demanded my shots -- we weren't going anywhere. I could have butted heads with Jermaine once he got here, or Jonathan (Bender) and Al (Harrington). But change is inevitable in life, and it's what you do with change and how you accept it. I know my window of opportunity is closing, but I felt like if they learned quickly, it would preserve me in the long run and give us a shot at a title. And that's what's happened."

    New Jersey Nets: The Nets are as the Nets do. "What we've been doing for the last three years has been very good for us," the rookie interim coach Frank Lawrence said in the New York Daily News. "You have to have trust, conviction and belief in what we do. And we do. We're not going to throw in a new offense and run it in Game 2. Adjustments are the tweaks and little modifications you make." Richard Jefferson agreed. "It's nearly impossible to have that kind of futility two games in a row. History kind of works in our favor there." Kenyon Martin made it even simpler. "We got better today," Kenyon Martin said. "We just need to work on the things we need to work on."

    Detroit Pistons: The Pistons welcomed back two familiar faces to practice: Rasheed Wallace and his plantar fasciitis. "Rasheed practiced a little bit," said coach Larry Brown in the Detroit Free Press. "I didn't recognize him. I hadn't seen him out there. He did all right. He was OK. He's getting closer. We have some days off. The mornings are the real problem."

    Boston Celtics: New coach Doc Rivers isn't wasting any time with his new staff, identifying Raptors assistant Tony Brown and Grizzlies assistant Lionel Hollins as his favorites. "I've talked to both guys [Brown and Hollins] about the job," said Rivers in the Boston Globe. "I've also talked to about five other guys. Tony Brown is the only guy I've given a financial offer to. I think he would be a terrific addition to our staff. Verbally, if Lionel and I can come to an agreement, he would be a terrific addition, too." Other people contacted are Magic assistants Dave Wohl, Paul Pressey and Mark Hughes, former assistant Jim Brewer, former Sixers coach Randy Ayers and Celtics assistant Paul Cormier, who could be the only returning coach.


    Chandler
    Chicago Bulls: Tyson Chandler crosses his heart. "This is going to be my hardest-working summer ever," he said in the Chicago Tribune. The big man returned to Chicago's Berto Center after a brief vacation in California and is said to be joining Eddy Curry in escalated workouts.

    Minnesota Timberwolves: The St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting that the Timberwolves' payroll will jump up another $2 million with the announcement that Kevin Garnett had become the league's MVP. A clause in his contract says Garnett gets paid an additional $1 million bonus because of the award, and because Minnesota is already over the luxury cap, it will be fined dollar for dollar.

    Los Angeles Lakers: Is Phil Jackson losing control of his team? "We had some miscommunications tonight, and some of that was my fault," Jackson said in the Los Angles Times after fans witnessed a heated argument between him and Karl Malone during Wednesday night's game. "This has been typical of the year, this miscommunication as a team," Malone said. "Maybe all of us are stubborn."

    * Miller's demand: another shot at title
    Bob Kravitz / Indianapolis Star
    * Call for a Frank answer
    Ohm Youngmisuk / New York Daily News
    * R. Wallace finally able to practice
    Perry A. Farrell / Detroit Free Press
    * Brown, Hollins extended offers
    Shira Springer / Boston Globe
    * Hard work in Chandler's summer plans
    K.C. Johnson / Chicago Tribune
    * Garnett's MVP award has price tag
    Charley Walters / St. Paul Pioneer Press
    * This Time, Jackson Can't Find Way to Bring Out the Greatness
    Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times

  3. #3
    Member Ragnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers insider

    Is Stackhouse tradable? He has three years, $25 million left on his contract. That's not an unreasonable amount. If the Wizards were willing to swallow a big contract in return, they might find a taker.

    Brown remains their most tradeable commodity. He showed enough flashes of greatness last season to keep teams very interested in him. While Brown still appears to lack the fire to be a go-to guy on any team, his skills at his size are undeniable. The Wizards won't give him away, but if they can get significantly better in the process, they have to consider it.

    The team may also make a decision between Jeffries and Hayes. They don't need both players. Hayes is a better fit in Washington's system, meaning that Jeffries should keep his bags packed.


    I tell you what I would take Stackhouse/Brown and Jeffries if they would take Cro or Pollard. We would need to throw in Harrington who will now be a hot commodity. But if he is going to want to start then we can bring in Jeffries off the bench and bring Kwame along slowley if need be.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pacers insider

    Hey...there is an article on the pacers...can someone post that?

    http://proxy.espn.go.com/nba/playoff...ory?id=1795904
    This is actually really good... worth a read:

    [hr]

    Brian James, a former assistant coach with the Pistons, Raptors and Wizards,
    spent the 2003-04 season scouting for the SuperSonics. Insider tapped his NBA
    expertise to break down each playoff series.

    After 11 days of practicing against each other, Indiana finally gets back to
    competing with someone else. The Heat will arrive at Conseco Fieldhouse on an
    incredible high after winning Game 7 over New Orleans.

    It could take the Pacers as much as a half of basketball to regain the form that
    carried them to a sweep over Boston in Round 1. With Miami playing regularly
    over the past two weeks, could there be an upset in Game 1? For what it's worth,
    the Pacers won all three meetings between the two teams this season, but Miami's
    Dwyane Wade was healthy in only the last contest, an 87-80 victory at Indiana.

    The contrast in styles with these two teams will be quite evident. Indiana loves
    to pound the ball inside to a variety of quality post-up scorers -- Jermaine
    O'Neal, Ron Artest and Al Harrington, among others. The Pacers have the best
    road record in the NBA, so it's evident that hostile crowds don't bother them
    much. Even with their still youthful exuberance, this team has a tremendous
    amount of playoff experience.

    Offensively, the Pacers will run a handful of pro sets that get their best
    scorers the ball in specific areas of the floor. This way each player's
    strengths are brought out. Whether it's the inside attack or kicking back out
    and swinging the ball to open shooters, everyone knows exactly where his
    teammates will be. There is less freelancing on this team than most others.

    Defensively, Indiana has players capable of guarding multiple positions and who
    are aggressive in screen-roll action. You won't out-tough them or beat them with
    intimidation. So execution will have to be at a premium. The Indiana bench might
    be the best in all of basketball. It dominated the series against Boston.

    Miami will attack relentlessly in transition with Wade, Rafer Alston, Lamar
    Odom, Eddie Jones and Caron Butler. They are young and are having fun. Miami had
    success against New Orleans by spreading the floor and letting Wade and Odom
    take turns penetrating into scoring areas in the paint. Indiana must build a
    wall in front of these two and keep them outside at all costs. It won't be easy,
    but the Pacers also must make Wade a jump-shooter in this series. If he
    penetrates and you give help with the closest defender or another interior
    defender, someone will be open on the kick-out pass. That is why Butler had so
    many open shots in Game 7.

    The Heat had great execution in set plays coming out of timeouts, usually
    involving some type of wing screen-roll and swinging the ball to the weak side
    with some type of misdirection action.

    Defensively, Miami wore New Orleans down. They were extremely aggressive in
    trapping every screen-roll, forcing 21 turnovers in Game 7 and creating
    opportunities in the open court. They used their speed and quickness in doubling
    the post, then recovering to shooters. They just had a smothering D in the
    halfcourt. Miami did not let the Hornets get an open shot, taking away the sets
    for David Wesley and Jamaal Magloire with intense preparation of players and
    coaches alike. The Heat have been playing at a different quickness level in
    these two areas of defense and transition.

    Strengths: Indiana is possibly the toughest team I've watched this season. Their
    top seven or eight players fought through this season without any major injuries
    except Artest's thumb surgery, and even Ron missed only a couple of weeks. Their
    bench goes 11 deep, giving coach Rick Carlisle plenty of flexibility.

    The Pacers, under Carlisle, take much better care of the ball, getting extra
    possessions by turning the ball over only 13.5 times a game. That's one reason
    Indiana won so many close games in the regular season.

    When things get tough, or when a coach is searching for a set to run, it's easy
    when you have so many good post-up players who will take the ball strong to the
    rim. Then you have the shooting outside of Reggie Miller. There has been no
    better clutch shooter from beyond the 3-point line in the last 15 years.

    Defensively, no one had a better year than Artest. With some help, he completely
    took Paul Pierce out of the first round, mentally and physically. Look for him
    to guard three different Heat players, depending on who has the hot hand --
    Eddie Jones, Butler or even Odom.

    Weaknesses: Indiana has not played a close game in three weeks. Hopefully for
    the Pacers, that won't cause them to start slow and ultimately cost them
    home-court advantage. I'm sure Miami will double the post and be in full
    rotation out to close out shooters. This means Jamaal Tinsley, Anthony Johnson,
    Kenny Anderson and Fred Jones will have to prove they can consistently knock
    down the perimeter shot.

    Miami Heat

    Strengths: I can't remember a Heat team that was so athletic and young in so
    many key spots. Young legs definitely recover more quickly, so they will have
    the edge in speed in the backcourt. This team wins the old fashioned way, with
    hard work and an unselfish and enthusiastic chemistry.

    As good as Indiana was at taking care of the ball in the regular season, Miami
    was better, turning it over only 13.1 times. The Heat also shot very well from
    the 3-point line (.357, seventh in the league). Despite not playing with a true
    center, they are very active on the boards.

    Pat Riley's defensive philosophy is to play aggressively, talk constantly and
    know where to rotate to help teammates in mismatches or in closing out shooters.

    They still front the post if possible, although not as much as in past seasons.

    Weaknesses: Miami plays no true shot-blocker or center in their starting lineup.

    New Orleans exposed this and was attacking the offensive glass to gain extra
    possessions. With Indiana's size and strength, look for the Pacers to have a big
    advantage on the boards, as well. Wade, still learning to play the point, was
    pressured into some mistakes this season, and the Heat finished 28th in assists
    (19.1 per game) as a result.

    Coach Stan Van Gundy's rotation really only consists of seven players, and that
    lack of depth may get fully exposed the longer the Heat keeps playing. Miami
    wears you down defensively. Will they wear down themselves with such a thin
    bench?

    Miami also fouled too much, and too soon in quarters, against New Orleans,
    putting the Hornets in the penalty with 5-7 minutes to play in each period.
    Indiana will make you pay if you put them to the line that early.
    Can the Heat win on the road in the playoffs? Miami didn't win a game in New
    Orleans and only finished 13-28 on the road in the regular season. A 13-31
    overall road record does not bode well.

    Head-to-head matchups

    Point guard: By now, the entire league knows how good Wade is and can become. If
    his perimeter shot keeps developing, the sky is the limit. He is a student of
    the game and a relentless worker at both ends who is not afraid to take the
    game-winning shot. Wade made two of them in Round 1. He didn't shoot a high
    percentage against New Orleans, but he made the clutch ones.

    You can tell he has been well taught, because fundamentally he is very sound. He
    wants to use his quickness, get by his man and get to the rim, playing to his
    strengths not his weaknesses.

    Wade often moves over to off guard when backup point Rafer Alston comes in.

    Alston keeps improving and will make big 3-point shots, drive and kick to
    shooters, is lightning quick and is becoming a true NBA point guard.

    Indiana's trio of Tinsley, Johnson and Anderson has done a very good job
    handling the offense through 65 total victories this season. Tinsley's play has
    been tempered under coach Carlisle. He is not making the unsafe pass and he has
    been very good as a starter. Johnson is the finisher many times and has made big
    shots when his defender leaves to go double the post. AJ also has NBA Finals
    experience as Jason Kidd's understudy. Kenny Anderson has had a solid season
    when healthy but will be tested to make the outside shot.

    Edge: Miami. Wade has gotten very good in a hurry, and his athleticism will hurt
    Indiana.

    Off guard: Indiana's Miller will be rested and chomping at the bit to get the
    series off to a good start. Boston gave Reggie too many quality looks at the
    basket, and he shot 42 percent from 3-point land. Miami must know where he is at
    all times, especially in the last five minutes of games, when you practically
    have to guard him with a box-and-one or he'll make the killer shots to beat you.

    Miller likes to start the game getting some break-out layups, and he loves to
    flop to draw the foul when his team is in the penalty. He's famous for running
    hard off cuts, stopping, then getting off a shot or getting fouled. And you
    can't foul him, because he's automatic from the line.

    Fred Jones. Surprisingly, Jones made a few perimeter shots against Boston. He'll
    have to prove he can do it again. He is a tremendous leaper and wants to get the
    ball to the rim.

    Miami starts Eddie Jones, who shot only 3 for 13 in Game 7, but he can get 25 on
    you in a hurry. He loves to drive the baselines from either wing or shoot the 3.
    Many sets are designed to hit him coming off single- or double-screens by the
    big men. Wade and Alston rotate with him at the guard spots.

    Edge: Indiana gets a slight advantage because of Reggie's successful experience
    in the playoffs.

    Small forward: Ron Artest , the league's Defensive Player of the Year, was
    disappointed he didn't win the MVP as well. That spells trouble for whomever he
    is matched up against. He will not pass up many shots if left open, and he
    really has improved his scoring touch. He loves to drive to his left. Ron's work
    ethic will not be outdone in games or practice and gets everyone's respect.
    Sixth Man of the Year Al Harrington can hurt you outside, but his specialty is
    posting up smaller players. He and Artest will play together at times at 3 and
    4. Harrington would be a starter on almost every other team in the NBA.

    Miami starts second-year player Caron Butler, who had an incredible Game 7 with
    23 points (10-for-18 shooting) and 9 rebounds. He got 18 shots because New
    Orleans was leaving him to help stop the penetration of Wade and Odom. His
    numbers are down this season simply because the team added more talent and thus
    had more scoring options. He loves to take the ball strong to the rack and can
    really score inside. This will be a heated, physical match up I promise.
    Rasual Butler (no relation) backs up Caron. Every time I watch him play, he
    knocks down shots from all over as soon as he comes in. I'm puzzled why his
    minutes are down.

    Edge: Indiana. Not this year, Caron.

    Power forward: O'Neal is the best power forward in the East. His shooting range
    has improved, and he's tough as nails inside, yet he is very unselfish. He loves
    the right block, so he can shoot over his left shoulder going towards the
    baseline. Miami will body him, be physical with him and take away his post-ups
    and encourage him to shoot jumpers.

    His backup is Harrington or Jonathan Bender. Bender loves to score in transition
    but can shoot the deep 3 as well. He played extremely well in Round 1 against
    Boston, though he has been susceptible to injury because of his slender frame.
    Austin Croshere may play as well, and he is a capable shooter who is not afraid
    to put his head down and drive.

    Miami has relished having Odom as a starter. Lamar is playing better than at any
    time in his career. He had 16 and 9 in Game 7 and averages almost a
    double-double. He can shoot, deep isolate and drive left, or post up on the
    right block so he can go towards the middle. He is their post-up threat in
    crunch time. Odom can run, score in transition, post and is improving
    defensively.

    His backup is rookie Udonis Haslem,an undrafted player who has been a pleasant
    surprise. He is a hard worker, rebounds very well and proved against the Hornets
    he can make shots. Udonis also will back up at center. Malik Allen can make the
    long jump shot if needed.

    Edge: Indiana. As good as Odom is, he is not as ready as O'Neal is for this
    series.

    Center: Indiana will start Jeff Foster, a great leaper and relentless offensive
    rebounder who continues to get the Pacers extra possessions. He is the trailer
    on offense and can swing the ball to the weak side or knock down the mid range
    jump shot. Foster shot 54 percent this season and is a nice piece for the
    Pacers, because he doesn't need the ball to succeed.

    Foster plays about half the game, with Indiana moving O'Neal to center and
    Harrington to the four as a finishing lineup. Scot Pollard may get a chance
    early. He has many years of experience with Sacramento and fundamentally is very
    sound. He has not shot the ball as well this season, and that is one reason his
    minutes are down.

    Miami counters with one of my favorite players in Brian Grant. I can't believe
    how many times he comes up with the ball inside or makes big plays at either
    end. He does everything possible to put his team in position to win games. A
    natural power forward, he plays center out of need. Brian is a great position
    rebounder and can make shots when needed, but he also has a knack for making the
    extra pass. Coaches love it when they get a better shot out of the possession.
    Grant wants to finish at the rim after driving to his right. He has been very
    good in big games for many years.

    Haslem or Samaki Walker will back him up. Walker can block shots and may be
    needed in series. Loren Woods won't play much. Wang Zhi Zhi may get in to extend
    the Pacers' defense, because he can make the long perimeter shots.

    Edge: Miami.

    Bench: Indiana plays theirs almost as many minutes as the starters, because they
    are very good at what they do. Miami doesn't have much trust in any player after
    the top 7.

    Edge: Indiana.

    Prediction: After the rust wears off, which will happen quickly, the Pacers will
    play like they are capable and win this series in five games, six at the most.
    Miami already has exceeded expectations. The benches will be a big factor, and
    Indiana has the defense and toughness to move on.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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