When Larry Bird speaks, Indiana listens. That simple truism was probably a contributing factor when Bird, now the team president for the Indiana Pacers, called his team "soft" after a Tuesday loss to the Miami Heat. The Heat win gave them a 3-2 series lead, and put the Pacers under pressure with the series headed back to Indiana for Game 6.
Larry Bird: "I can't believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T. I'm disappointed. I never thought it would happen."— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNBA) May 23, 2012
Bird did not elaborate on his comments to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, but it was plain to see he was talking about the sum total of the Pacers' performance over the last two games of the series. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made shot after shot in both games. Flagrant fouls from Dexter Pittman and Udonis Haslem only put salt into the wounds.
Miami can close it out with a win on Thursday, punching their ticket for the Eastern Conference finals. Indiana is unlikely to take Bird's comments lying down. Expect a fierce competition.
For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For the opponent's perspective throughout the series, check out Indy Cornrows and SB Nation Indiana. And for all your news and notes on the playoffs matchups, visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.