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Smits Back in Uniform for Game 4

May 1, 2000

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Rik Smits, who sat out Indiana’s victory over Milwaukee Saturday night, will be back for Game 4 tonight. He might not start, however.

With Smits serving a one-game suspension by the NBA, Austin Croshere got the start Saturday. But because of Croshere’s sore foot, coach Larry Bird might keep Croshere as a starter in order to prevent the foot from stiffening after pregame warmups.

``We’ll see how Austin is and how Rik feels about it and what I think is best for the team,″ Bird said.

The last time Smits came off the bench during a game was two years ago, after he missed games with foot problems.

``This is the playoffs; you have to make decisions,″ Bird said. ``You just hope you make the right one.″

Smits, who said he felt refreshed by his unscheduled layoff Saturday, was surprised to hear that he might not start. But at this point of the season and his career, he’s willing to go along with any plan.

``That’s his decision,″ Smits said of Bird. ``If I don’t play at all and we win, I’ll take that, too.″

Smits was suspended one game for throwing an elbow at Bucks center Ervin Johnson in Game 2 of the best-of-five series.

The Pacers’ 109-96 victory gave them a 2-1 lead in the series. A victory tonight would send the Pacers into the Eastern Conference semifinals; a loss would force a fifth game against the Bucks Thursday night at Indianapolis.

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