Larry Bird calls Pacers 'soft'
After the worst playoff loss in franchise history, Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird called out his team, saying he believed his team wilted when faced with Tuesday's physical play.
"I can't believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T," Bird told the Indianapolis Star Tuesday night. "I'm disappointed. I never thought it would happen."
When asked to elaborate more, Bird told the newspaper, "That's all I have to say."
The Miami Heat moved a win away from the NBA's conference final with a 115-83 victory against the hurting Pacers, a Game 5 where three flagrant fouls added more chapters to an already-physical series and Indiana watched starting forwards Danny Granger and David West leave with injuries.
The Pacers practiced in Miami before flying home Wednesday. Granger agreed with Bird's sentiment, saying the team got "beat up, we got bullied and we really didn't respond well" in Game 5.
"I've been with Larry since I've been in Indiana for seven years," Granger added. "He's not been one to hold his tongue, and 99 percent of the time what he's saying is right. I think he just called out what everyone else saw. We played a soft game. We didn't play with the playoff intensity that we needed to win."
LeBron James said Wednesday that Bird was trying to motivate his team with his comments.
"He knows their team has their backs against the wall. He knows what he's doing. He's not the Executive of the Year for no reason. We know all about that," James said.
Game 6 will be Thursday night in Indiana. The Heat lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals 3-2.
Granger left with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and departed the arena in a walking boot, while West left with what the Pacers called a left knee sprain at the end of that period.
"I'm fine," West said, adding that he believes Granger could be ready to play Thursday.
Granger wasn't so sure, though he added that his foot would "have to fall off" for him to miss the game.
Granger was in flip-flops when Wednesday's practice ended, saying the left ankle he sprained in Game 5 was still painful.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.