|Big Smooth outside shot was key this season|
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A meaningless statistic.
That's the way Sam Perkins describes the fact that only Utah's
Karl Malone and John Stockton have been in more playoff games than he has without winning a championship.
Perkins, 38, is set for his 142nd post-season game Sunday when
his Indiana Pacers begin their best-of-five first-round series
against Milwaukee. It's the 14th playoff appearance in 16 seasons
for Perkins, who has said he's most likely going to retire this
Stockton tops the list of ringless playoff participants with 158
games and Malone went into this year's playoffs with 148.
"That's the saddest stat to ever make up," Perkins said. "It
is meaningless. I don't know if it is a cause of concern. I've been
there trying hard to do it. It is a stat that I don't even care
The Pacers are the fourth team with whom Perkins has been to the
He reached the NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991,
when they were beaten by Chicago in five games, and again in 1996
with Seattle. The Bulls defeated Seattle in six games that year.
This is the second consecutive year the Bucks and Pacers are
meeting in the opening round of the playoffs.
Indiana swept the best-of-five series last year as Milwaukee
reached the playoffs for the first time since 1991. The Bucks
haven't won a playoff game since May 1, 1990 and come to Conseco
Fieldhouse having dropped 13 of their last 14 postseason outings.
The two teams split their four meetings during the regular
season and in the last one, the Bucks won here 104-82. It was the
most one-sided Indiana loss in Conseco Fieldhouse as they matched
the league-best home mark of 36-5 recorded by the Lakers.
"It's a different season now," Perkins said. "Just the fact
that we go into the playoffs knowing we beat them, they beat us,
gives it more of a challenge and a close playoff series to watch."
In the twilight of his career, Perkins has been someone coaches
can count on to play. He's missed only nine games in the past eight
seasons. The outside shooting of the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Perkins is
one of the reasons Indiana earned home court advantage throughout
the Eastern Conference finals by finishing 56-26 -- the franchise's
second best record since entering the NBA in 1976.
Indiana made a franchise-record 583 shots from 3-point range
this season, topped by Reggie Miller with 165. Perkins and starter
Mark Jackson were second on the list with 89 and the .408 shooting
mark by Perkins was topped only by the .409 mark of veteran Chris
"This first round is very crucial, how we play, not how we
win," said Perkins. "A lot of guys know that this might be the
end of us being together."
Perkins, Miller, Jackson, Austin Croshere, Rik Smits and Jalen
Rose, who led the team in scoring with an 18.2 average, will all be
free agents at the end of the season.
"A lot of guys know that this might be the inevitable end of us
being together," Perkins said. "(Nearly) everybody else might be
on the way someplace else. With that feeling behind you, you want
to make sure this is the opportune time to take advantage of it."
Perkins played for Milwaukee coach George Karl for five years in
"I don't even think about that," Perkins said. "I don't have
to guard him, and he doesn't have to guard me. I used to play for
him, that was it."
Still, he knows the Bucks will seek success with a pressing
"You have to attack the press every time, especially the zone.
You're going to have to find the holes," Perkins said. "You don't
want to be stagnant against the zone press."
|Perkins says this is probably his last go-around|