Leandro Barbosa had a warning for his Indiana Pacers teammates prior to Saturday night's game one first round loss- don't take the Orlando Magic lightly because they won't "be easy".
The Pacers blew a seven-point lead with four minutes left in the game and failed to make a shot as they missed their last nine attempts and gave the ball away twice in the crucial moments of their loss to a Magic team that's missing Dwight Howard.
The Magic won the regular season series 3-1, making their current 1-0 playoff lead familiar territory. But Howard or no Howard, Barbosa likes Indiana's chances in this series even if they didn't fare well during their regular season meetings.
"It could be different," said Barbosa during a phone conference with Latino media outlets Friday afternoon. "We got to understand that the Orlando Magic are still a great team. They have a lot of weapons. It's not going to be easy. You know we have a lot of work to do and a lot of adjustment to do."
"It's a big factor for them to lose Dwight Howard. They still have a lot of players and veteran players that can play," Barbosa added.
Going forward they're going to have to find a way to contain Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson and Glen Davis, who was impressive with 16 points and 13 rebounds in place of Howard on Saturday. Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson were off their game, with a combined 5-for-17 shooting from the field.
Monday they'll meet again for Game 2.
Barbosa, who is dealing with a sprained right ankle, was limited to just 20 minutes of playing time in game one.
Having spent seven years with the Phoenix Suns, chasing a title with the likes of coach Mike D'Antoni, Steve Nash and company, Barbosa is no stranger to this time of the year in the NBA
Now, after spending most of the season in the Eastern Conference north of the border in Toronto, Barbosa once again has a shot at getting that coveted title he never won as a Sun.
Indiana added Barbosa in a deal with the Raptors at the trade deadline, bringing in the guard that was averaging 12.2 points a game off the bench. Since he can play both guard positions, his addition to the team gives coach Frank Vogel versatility.
With Orlando coming in as the sixth-seeded team, it spared the Pacers from going up against a much more dangerous team in the New York Knicks.
The Pacers are sure glad they won't have to worry about facing Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler or basically anyone on the New York team that would have given Indiana problems on the floor. The Pacers don't have really anyone to counter the firepower the Knicks have shown off the bench with Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.
For now, they'll just have to worry about a Magic team that's looking to make a statement. The Pacers just hope it's not at their own doing.
"I mean the chances are big (to beat the Magic). It could have been big against the Knicks too. We got Orlando, so it's a big factor that they don't have Dwight Howard but at the same time it's not going to be easy. They still have players that can still play and do a lot of things without Dwight Howard. If it was the Knicks, it was going to be the same thing. We were going to play and adjust. It's the playoffs. It's a totally different level. You just got to play and have fun," Barbosa said.
In his short time with the Pacers, Barbosa has been impressed with the job Vogel has done in leading the team to it's second playoff berth since taking over last year.
"Oh he's been great. I didn't know he was such a great coach until I got here.... I learned a lot of things with him and he's a player's coach," Barbosa said. "I hope he can get the coach of the year because he really deserves it and really works hard for the team. He's a really good coach. "
Barbosa stepped away from conversation about the playoffs and said that he would like to see his buddy Steve Nash continue playing.
Barbosa said that Nash told him he has three more years left in him and if he does stay in Phoenix, he hopes the team will add the pieces to help him get the title both he and Barbosa worked so hard for but never won.
"He's a great guy. He's a great worker. I don’t know what he's going to do. I know he's going to have a lot of options for him but I'm sure the Suns are still the number one place for him to stay. But he's definitely going to look for the best fit for him "
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc