Sportsman of the Year
Work in Sports
Life of Reilly
SI for Kids
SI Customer Service
SI Media Kits
Get into College
Sweet Home Indiana
Finals head to Indy with Pacers looking to turn it around
Posted: Saturday June 10, 2000 01:29 PM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
This is a special edition of the NBA Week at a Glance. It will appear every day until the NBA Finals conclude.
LOS ANGELES -- Saturday may be the most difficult section of the NBA Finals for the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers. They're coming off a grueling Game 2, they play again Sunday night -- and in the one day in between, they had to get from L.A. to Indianapolis.
It's the only time in the series the travel gets this wacky. Even if the Finals move back to L.A. for Games 6 and 7, Game 6 won't be held 'til June 19, a Monday. Game 5 is next Friday, so there's plenty of time to recover and get West in between.
If there's an edge to be gained in the move East, though, it belongs to Indiana. The Pacers get to go home for Games 3-5 -- if there is a Game 5 -- and get to play in Conseco Fieldhouse, where they were 36-5 this season.
The bad news for the Pacers: No home team ever has won all three of the middle games in the 2-3-2 format.
| SI's Marty Burns |
At least this time it was closer. That's the only consolation the Pacers
can take from their 111-104 loss to the Lakers in Game 2 Friday night.
Thanks to Kobe Bryant's injury, quicker double teams on Shaq and a whole
lot of hacking, Indiana managed to stay within striking distance late in
the game. Unfortunately for the Pacers, Glen Rice and Ron Harper stepped
up big time, and Shaq managed to hit just enough foul shots to give his
team the edge.
Here are a few more observations from Game 2:
Shaq Fu: Forget the 40 points. Shaq once more did just as much damage
with his defense, rebounding and shot-blocking as he did with his
offense. His presence inside is forcing the Pacers to abandon their
normal inside-out offense and settle for one-on-one play.
Poor transition D: The Pacers were burned early by poor transition
defense, allowing the Lakers to get several easy baskets off the run.
Indiana did a much better job on the boards in Game 2, but it must
remember to get back.
Where's Reggie?: Pacers coach Larry Bird may have been too cautious by
keeping Reggie Miller on the bench for much of the first half with two
fouls. The Pacers could have used Reggie's scoring, especially with Kobe
Bryant on the sidelines.
Some people like the format. Some don't.
The Pacers and Lakers are simply going to have to live with it.
"Being that the home team has never won three straight," Indiana forward Jalen Rose said before Game 2, "I'm not liking it."
The conference semifinals are a best-of-seven 2-2-1-1-1 format, which makes for a dizzying last three games, travel-wise. But at least the team without the homecourt advantage doesn't get three straight games at home, as happens in the Finals format.
Not that it's provided any great edge so far.
"It's the NBA Finals," Rose said. "Winning against any team three straight times is tough to do. Winning against a team that is in the NBA Finals three straight times ..."
Luckily, the Pacers have Conseco going for them, the retro-basketball arena that has drawn rave reviews for its basketball-friendly setup.
Unlike Staples Center, with its triple-tiered luxury boxes and stands that sit a good ways away from the court, the fans in Conseco are close. And, it has to be said, the Indiana fans, given that state's rich basketball heritage, are a bit more vocal than the one's in L.A., too.
"This is an arena that carries basketball but suits entertainment," Rose said at the Staples Center. "Ours is an arena for basketball and everybody else has to adjust to basketball."
Whether the Pacers can buck tradition and sweep the Lakers in Indy is the biggest question left in the Finals, which L.A. leads 2-0.
Rose likes his team's chances.
"We feel like if there's a team that can do, we're the team that has that ability," Rose said. "Any time you've had the regular-season home record that we've had, and the excitement we've created with our fans and our team, and this is our first time in the Finals. At this point, anything is possible."
The Lakers are mindful of the power of Conseco, too.
"Two-three-two is scary," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said after Game 2, "because of how good they are there."
On to the NBA Finals Day at a Glance, which on a long travel day asks this: What would the travel schedule have looked like if Portland and Miami had advanced to the Finals?
The answer: Ha. Good one. If the Heat had made it. Ha.
| New Digs |
|The Pacers were an NBA-best 36-5 at Conseco Fieldhouse this season -- with one of those five coming against the Lakers. How sweet can home sweet home be to the Pacers? We're about to find out.|
| Kobe's Boo Boo |
|The Lakers' No. 2 guy sprained his ankle in the first quarter of Game 2. X-rays were negative, but it really, really hurt, we're told. Will he play? How much? How effective will he be? Oh, the questions ... |
| Clang, Clang, Clang Goes the Diesel |
|Maybe we're pointing out a bad brushstroke on the Mona Lisa, or a thread hanging off Superman's cape. But we can't help thinking that Shaq's free-throw woes may end up costing the Lakers. |
| A Rose So Sweeet |
|Rose had 30 points in Game 2 to go with his nine rebounds. At times, it looks like he could take over a game by himself. Maybe the Pacers should let him. ||
| HOT: Our Man Shaq |
The only thing that can stop this man is this man.
| COLD: Travis Best |
The Pacers' changeup guard just can't get anything going. He was 0-for-3 without an assist and only two free throws in Game 2. That's not putting any pressure on the Lakers.
| COLD: Brian Shaw |
The early nod for the most ineffective player on the Lakers goes to Shaw, who went 1-for-9 from the floor, including another zero for his three 3-point tries, in Game 2. In two games he is 3-for-18 from the floor, oh-for-7 from behind the arc.
| HOT: Ron Harper |
Kobe goes down and Ron Harper steps up? You betcha. He scored 21 points in Game 2. Kobe, we barely missed you.
| Austin Croshere . Where has Larry Bird been hiding this guy? He had 24 points, was a perfect 12 from the free throw line, he grabbed four offensive rebounds Friday night. He's active. He maybe ought to be getting some more playing time.
| Hack-a-Shaq . We don't like it. It just isn't basketball. We understand why it's done. But it's not basketball. This isn't negotiable.
| Sweet Home Indiana . You want some noise? Now we get some. During parts of Game 2 -- most of it, really -- we wondered whether those were real people in the Staples Center crowd.
| The Call on Shaq . The guy gets hacked all day, sometimes when the ball is nowhere near him, and the refs call him for a flagrant in Game 2? And it wasn't flagrant. It's not easy being Shaq sometimes.
| Miller's Shooting |
| Swish : He made six more shots in Game 2.|
Brick : He's still only getting off 16 shots a game.
| Bird's strategy |
| Swish : It's had the Pacers in position to win the first two games.|
Brick : They haven't won any -- and it's tough when Miller's on the bench.
| Sprained Ankles |
| Swish : Sometimes it feels better if you can walk it off a little.|
Brick : Sometimes it feels worse.
| Home-Court Pressure |
| Swish : Didn't bother L.A. none.|
Brick : It's the Pacers turn now.
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
|Search our site
||Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day
||Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.
Copyright © 2001|
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.