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Pacers Must Solve Bulls’ Defense

May 19, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ Larry Bird sounded very much like a football coach after analyzing the videotape of the Indiana Pacers and their difficulty with the Chicago Bulls.

Scottie Pippen shadowed Mark Jackson and was able to dog the Pacers’ point guard all over the floor. Reggie Miller, meanwhile, had trouble eluding the clingy defense of Ron Harper.

Why? Because the Pacers weren’t physical enough.

``We didn’t set any picks for Reggie. Watching the tape, nobody even stepped up and hit anybody,″ Bird said, looking forward to Game 2 of tonight’s Eastern Conference finals.

``We feel Reggie Miller can get open and does a lot of running to get open. But nobody put the body out there to set a pick. It’s awful hard in this league, especially against a defensive team like Chicago, to get open when guys are not setting picks.″

The Pacers lost Sunday’s series opener 85-79 when the Bulls surprised them with a defense that had Pippen all over Jackson, and Harper _ not Michael Jordan _ guarding Miller.

``Pippen was hyped up and they let him hang on Mark to bring the ball up,″ Bird said.

``We just have to make some adjustments. Mark is savvy enough, he’ll be able to do a lot better next time out. Obviously, Chicago is quicker than we are. They are long, lanky, they can move and they have been playing together a long time. We are a little slower, but I feel we can get the ball where we want to if we’re patient and guys do what they are supposed to.″

Miller, who shot just 5-of-14 in the opener when the Pacers also had 26 turnovers, gave a hint on how Indiana might attack Chicago’s defense.

``We have to make adjustments to get Jack(son) free and have other guys start the offense. It’s as simple as that,″ Miller said.

`We’ve always put the onus on Jack because he’s wanted it that way. But if you’re going to have a guy that is dogging him and fouling him from 40 feet, you have to get him off of him, and you can’t always have the ball in his hands.″

Pippen sacrificed his offense _ shooting just 1-of-9 with four points _ to use his energy on Jackson. By hounding him, he was able to befuddle all parts of the Pacers’ offense.

``It gives me pleasure to disrupt their offense. Not just shutting him down, but we were able to get them out of their offense and disrupt their total offensive game,″ Pippen said.

``I want to stay on him. I don’t know what type of adjustments they’re going to make. I’m sure they’re going to try and get me off Jackson a little bit and relieve some of the pressure. To say what it’s going to be, I don’t know.″

Jackson said he’s not concerned about Pippen’s defense or how he might elude him.

``I’ve been in the game too long to worry about somebody picking me up the full length of the court and worrying about guys not picking.″ Jackson said.

``If you get a pick, you get a pick. My job is to run the offense. We’ll take of that.″

The Bulls’ offense wasn’t flowing either. They shot 35.8 percent, their lowest in nine playoff games, and needed Jordan to score 25 of his 31 points in the second half to win.

``We weren’t a good offensive team. We missed tons of easy shots. We know we missed shots. They did too,″ Harper said.

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