A number of matchups didn't work in favor of the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Orlando's Anfernee Hardaway caused problems down low for Mark Jackson, who is six inches shorter than the Magic point guard, and Shaquille O'Neal dominated Rik Smits at center. The result was a convincing 105-101 victory for Orlando.But the Pacers are far from discouraged going into tonight's Game 2.
"This team will accept the challenge," Reggie Miller said. "We'll be ready. This is the best part of the playoffs, making adjustments, looking at film and getting ready for the next game. I love it."
Indiana is sure to make defensive adjustments aimed at keeping O'Neal under control while not letting the Magic's perimeter shooters go crazy, but the Pacers' biggest worry Wednesday was how to get more offensive help for their two leaders, Miller and Rik Smits. Miller had 26 Tuesday night, all but six before halftime, and Smits scored 17, but was on the bench in foul trouble during key stretches.
With two excellent offensive rebounders in forwards Dale Davis and Antonio Davis, Indiana simply needs more people taking shots, Brown said.
"What hurts Reggie and Rik is the other guys won't shoot the ball," he said. "If Mark Jackson and Derrick (McKey) are going to pass up 12-footers, it puts too much pressure on everybody else."
Coming into the series, the pressure was thought to be squarely on the Magic, playing in their first conference finals. But they are continuing to show they aren't the unpolished talent of a year ago, when they lost two close first-round games to the Pacers, then got blown out in Game 3.
This year, Orlando has proven it doesn't rattle easily. Already, the Magic have bounced back from a home loss to the Celtics in Game 2, winning twice at Boston Garden to win the first-round series. And they weathered Michael Jordan and the hype surrounding his number change.
"Everybody said we were going to choke on the road in Boston," Dennis Scott said. "We just went out and played basketball. When we got to Chicago, they thought we'd choke . . . But when we're in this locker room, we look into each other's eyes and believe in each other."