May 23, 2012, 4:16 PM EDT
Larry Bird was pissed after the Heat came out in Game 5 Tuesday and steamrolled his Pacers. The team president broke out probably the biggest insult you can use in professional sports.
Wednesday, the Pacers agreed.
“I agree with his assessment. We did play soft,” Indiana’s Danny Granger said Wednesday. “We got smacked around. We got beat up, we got bullied, and we really didn’t respond well.
“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 thought Bird was playing games.
“He’s just trying to amp them up. That’s all. That’s all it is,” James said. “He knows his team isn’t soft. But with them, with their backs against the wall at this point, he knows what he’s doing. He’s not the executive of the year for no reason.”
The bigger question than if the Pacers are soft is if Granger will be able to go. Granger sprained his ankle in the third quarter when he landed on LeBron James foot and the Pacers were outscored by 21 the rest of the way. Granger said he will play; coach Frank Vogel was more hesitant.
In a series that has gotten very chippy, I wouldn’t expect a soft game on Thursday.
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