|Marty Burns' Breakdown|
| At age 33 and with a history of sore feet, Rik Smits no longer
dominates like he once did. In fact, his 12.9 scoring average this season was
his lowest since '90-91. Still, he' s 7'4" and requires double teams -- a
problem for the center-less
| Ervin Johnson is only 6'11", but he blocks shots and runs the
floor well. He'll try to use his quickness to front Smits in the low post while
beating him down the court for easy baskets on the other end.
| Dale Davis and Jalen Rose are a rock-solid combo in the frontcourt.
Davis is an All-Star who can score in the low post, rebound and play defense.
Rose, a versatile 6'8" lefty, has become the Pacers' go-to guy. However, he
must concentrate on rebounding as well as stopping Bucks All-Star Glenn
| Robinson is a scoring machine at small forward, but his defense
remains shaky. He'll need to step up his game at both ends or Indiana will
dominate the front court. The 6'7" Ham is undersized at power forward but
he's tough and a hustler -- the kind of player foes underestimate until it's too
| Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller remain a terrific 1-2 backcourt, with
plenty of savvy and guile. Granted, they've lost a step on defense, but they can
still hit big shots. Their experience will serve them well against Milwaukee's
| Sam Cassell can score and create for others, but his defense will be
tested by Jackson and the cat-quick Travis Best. Ray Allen is an All-Star and an
explosive scorer, but he's nursing a sprained right knee that could limit
| Few teams can match Indiana's depth. Best is a terrific change-of-pace
at guard, while Derrick McKey is a proven defender at forward. Forward Austin
Croshere, 6'9" and quick to the hoop, could pose serious matchup problems.
| Tim Thomas has emerged as a legitimate scorer off the pine, but his
inexperience often shows. Scott Williams helps on the boards, while Danny
Manning and Vinny Del Negro provide veteran
| The Pacers are 36-5 at Conseco Fieldhouse, tied with the Lakers for the
NBA's best home-court record. They're also playing well, having won five in a
row entering the postseason.
| Swept in three games by the Pacers a year ago, the Bucks have no
shortage of motivation. They also are confident, having split the season series
with Indiana and having won 11 of 15 to close out the season.
| The past two seasons Larry Bird has taken the Pacers to the Eastern
Conference finals and to the semifinals. He knows his veteran team well and will
| George Karl is a proven coach who has his team playing its best ball
at the right time. He's not afraid to make adjustments on the fly or juggle
combinations to find a
| The Pacers set a team record for three-pointers made this season (578)
and ranked No. 1 in the league in long-range shooting percentage (39.3). The
Bucks ranked dead last in defending the three. If Miller & Co. are on, it's
lights out for
|| 'X' FACTOR
| Allen's left knee, injured in the team's big win over the Magic, has
been bothering him. Although he looked fine in the regular-season finale, the
Bucks can't afford to have it flare
|Burns' Prediction: Pacers in 4|