Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

Well-rested Pacers hoping for weary Heat

May 6, 2004

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— Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal couldn't help but smile while watching the Miami Heat beat New Orleans in a grueling first-round series.

"They're looking tired," O'Neal said Wednesday. "They had a tough, physical series with New Orleans and that's kind of what we wanted. We wanted those guys to beat up on each other and when they see us, we throw 10 or 12 guys at you that can really play."

The Heat finally finished off the Hornets with a Game 7 win on Tuesday, giving them just one day to prepare for the top-seeded Pacers. Game 1 of the second-round series is tonight.

The Pacers, on the other hand, have had an 11-day layoff since wrapping up their first-round sweep of Boston on April 25.

"Coming off an 11-day break, I'm not worried as much as I am curious as to how we'll respond," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "I know we'll be anxious and I know we'll be ready to play hard."

Indiana will be well-rested, but could be rusty as well.

"We got rest, that's for sure," O'Neal said. "But the plus that they have is they've been playing. They have a rhythm."

Miami is riding strong play from Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Dwyane Wade and a 16-game home winning streak into the second round.

Both teams are in the second round for the first time since 2000. The Heat clearly are elated to be in the position after starting the season 0-7.

"I'm just happy that we are able to go to Indiana and play," said Heat guard Eddie Jones.

The Pacers, meanwhile, see this as simply the next step.

"We really think we're supposed to be here and we feel like we're supposed to win a championship," O'Neal said. "Anything outside of winning a championship isn't really civilized for us."

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