Since this is so long, I'm going to subsection it.
I actually posted one of these last year because I got tired and aggravated reading so many people ripping and pointing fingers at Reggie. The loyalty that most fans on here have to Reggie obviously goes nowhere beyond the previous game. Without going back over Reggie's career, I'll instead just focus on this series counting back from game 5.
REGGIE SERIES RECAP
Game 5. Biggest game in franchise history. And where is Reggie? Getting the Pacers off to a good start in quarter 1, missing shots in quarter 2, then not taking another for the entire game except for one layup that he had rejected like the majority of layups by Pacers breaking against three swarming Pistons. Passes up two shots in the last two minutes of the game with the Pacers down 13 going inside to the guy who is supposed to lead this team and who finished 3rd in the voting for MVP. Pacers lose by 18. Tinsley goes 3-13, Croshere 0-7, Artest 4-16, but according to many fans, Reggie is to blame for passing up those 2 threes and for getting burned by Hamilton. Hamilton did score 30 through the middle of 3rd quarter, majority on Reggie. With DPOY on another, coach waits until the lead is double figures to switch. Though Hamilton has torched Jones and Artest earlier in the series, the switch finally pays off. Hamilton is the best offensive player on Pistons. Yet Reggie is asked to guard him for the majority of each game. Yet no one is willing to point the finger at Carlisle who determines who will be guarding who.
Backing up to game 4. Reggie goes 6-7, including 3-4 from 3 point range. Has best shooting performance percentage-wise on team and is second leading scorer. Is huge reason why the Pacers win. No one mentions much about this because it's largely expected from Reggie and the Pacers play like a team once again.
Game 3, in which Pacers play one-on-one ball through three quarters, Reggie is largely non-existent going 1-4. No one sets screens for him. There is no interest to get him in the game. Does as good a job as anybody defendng Hamilton. Pacers get walloped.
Game 2, Reggie leads the team with 21 points, going 5-13, a low percentage, but higher than everyone else that night except for Foster who goes 1-2. Reggie leads Pacers back in final minutes by making four free throws in a row, something two all stars on this team haven't been able to do in playoff fourth quarters. Reggie puts himself in a position to make a break-away layup to tie the game with 19 seconds left but Prince comes out nowhere to block it. Everyone faults Reggie for losing the game.
Game 1, Reggie has miserable 1-7 shooting performance, though the 1 is a game winning three that put the Pacers up three with less than a minute to play. Though the media and much of Indiana treats him as a hero, many fans on the message board whine and moan about the 1-7 shooting performance and state that he needs to retire.
The defense on Hamilton had been considered decent up until game 5 explosion. Hamilton could have torched half the guys in the league for 30. Reggie shouldn't be at fault for not being able to contain the top scorer on the best team in the East. Since when is Reggie asked to shut down the leading scorer on another team? He hustles hit butt off on defense, but he's never been the best defender. Who cares if he has to guard Prince? Let Prince work the post against Reggie. Prince gets two buckets in one game and it's considered a bad idea. Run double teams at Prince. Front Prince in the post. But don't leave Reggie for three quarters on Hamilton and then blame him when DPOY is standing at the three point line. Artest just proved that he can shut down Hamilton. Artest should be gaurding Hamilton at tip-off next game. But Reggie's defense is decent as it's always been. (How about the block against Hamilton?) And notice that the defense only becomes an apparent liability when he's not shooting on offense.
It also seems to me that "Reggie needs to retire" is getting old. He's going to retire soon. If Pacers need Reggie to bail them out of playoff games, then they aren't ready to have him retire. If the Pacers are so much better without Reggie, then he probably wouldn't have been needed to hit the game winner in Game 1, been the only player to put them in a position to win Game 2 while leading the team in scoring, suffer miserably when he has a bad Game 3, win easily when he has a great Game 4 and is second on team in scoring, and again have little chance of winning when he's not taking big shots in Game 5. It almost sounds like Reggie is a bigger indicator of whether these Pacers win or lose playoff games than most fans would like. Almost sounds like, so goes Reggie, so goes the Pacers.
The problem with Reggie is that he isn't being used properly. Reggie defers by nature. He called the Pacers Chuck Person's team. He called the Pacers Jalen Rose's team. He's also called them Jermaine Oneal's team. But when Larry Brown was coaching, Larry made sure that everyone knew that the Pacers were Reggie's team, and he made this clear by running screen after screen after triple screen for Reggie throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Is it really a coincidence that another player named Rip Hamilton under Larry Brown is doing virtually the same thing?
To use Reggie properly, Pacers need to run screen after screen after triple screen for him because, as some fans have come to realize, it's not to the Pacers advantage to have him standing out there as a decoy. If games 1, 2, and 4 of this playoffs are any indication, then Reggie can certainly shoot in big games. Problem is, he's not getting enough shots. Pacers have been getting dominated in the inside. What they need is outside shooting. They have one of the greatest outside shooters in NBA history who still shoots over 40% from beyond the arc but they don't think that going to Reggie often is worthwhile when they have all this young potential. Well in the playoffs, most want to win, and the young guys have shown that they are not yet capable of bringing a team over the top.
The Pacers lose nothing by running screen after screen after triple screen for Reggie. Some of the few times that they have, Pistons have run two defenders toward him leaving Oneal open on the baseline. Some of the few times they have, Reggie has buried open threes. If Reggie is open running off a screen, he'll often take the shot. If not, he'll hit Oneal inside who needs establish better position. The only way to use Reggie appropriately is run plays for him time and time again. The fact that the Pistons own the interior and that Oneal and Artest and others keep getting their stuff blocked makes this strategy all the more sensible. Reggie is not an old timer holding the Pacers back. As the first five games indicate, he's one of the only players giving them a shot.
But Reggie will soon retire, so fair weather Pacer fans will have their wish. While he's still playing, the Pacers should at least make an effor to get him shots instead of expecting him to bail them out on call. Reggie doesn't play one-on-one like the majority on this team. He's used to coaches that actually run screens for him. When the Pacers run screens, even for Jones, they are much better. But if you watch, it seems that Croshere and Miller are the only ones interested in setting screens time and time down the floor. What pains me isn't that Reggie hasn't retired, but that the Pacers don't know how to take advantage when he can still shoot the lights out. Leave his hands cold, and his shot may continue to pause. Continue not to call his number, and his willingness to demand the ball will wane. Continue to use him as they have, and the Pacers season is over.
And if you want to attempt to prove me wrong, then do more than restate what I have mentioned above (1 blocked layup! 2 hesitant shots with team down 13! Reggie can't defend best offensive player on Pistons!), and elaborate on who else of these young guns have proven these playoffs that they are ready to lead the team to victory.