Barbosa happy to be back in playoff hunt
March 17, 2012 -- Leandro Barbosa isn't sure what awaits him in his new role with the Pacers but he'll have to learn like he does most everything else: fast.
The 6-3 guard arrived in Indianapolis Saturday, took his physical and watched the Pacers' game with the Knicks from a seat behind the bench. He'll make his debut Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers in Bankers Life FIeldhouse.
"The one thing I know that I can do is bring energy and speed it up a little bit," said Barbosa, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil. "I like to run a lot up and down and I'm sure this team is doing that a lot. As much as we can do to run, I will be the first one to do the best."
In order to get Barbosa spooled up as quickly as possible, Coach Frank Vogel and the staff will hold a one-man orientation session Sunday. The Pacers will then practice Monday.
"We'll come in tomorrow and work with him, might bring in some of the assistant coaches and bring him up to speed on a lot of our sets and defensive philosophies and get him ready to go for Tuesday," Vogel said. "We're going to use a lot of videotape, a lot of Xs and Os on the chalkboard, we might even bring some guys out on the court just to dummy through some of the offensive sets and philosophies and stuff. We'll have no problem getting him up to speed quickly."
Not everything about this move from Toronto to Indianapolis has been fast. As it turns out, Barbosa ran into some travel problems that delayed his arrival.
"It's been a little crazy. I was in Memphis when I heard the situation about the trade, and since I heard I traveled to Atlanta, and then Atlanta lost the plane," he said. "I slept in Atlanta -- I couldn't sleep because I had too much on my mind thinking about how it was going to be, if the guys were going to accept me well and the coaches and everything. And then in the morning, like 6 o'clock I took a flight to Toronto and then I had to do a lot of things up there just to make sure I was clear to come here. But I'm happy to be here, very excited to start."
Barbosa will bring energy, 3-point shooting and a solid all-around offensive game to the second unit. He can play both guard positions but is more comfortable at shooting guard. He could combine with George Hill to give the Pacers a blindingly fast backcourt off the bench, but that remains to be seen.
Vogel said Barbosa's presence offers not only flexibility but competition for playing time.
"Everybody's got to be on guard now and make sure they're on their game because we're going to be looking at a lot of different combinations," Vogel said. "There's jobs to be won and lost in the next few weeks. Our guys have got to make sure they're on their games."
Barbosa, 29, spent his first seven seasons in Phoenix, making five playoff appearances (averaging 10.2 points in 64 games). He was dealt to Toronto for Hedo Turkoglu before the 2010-11 season, so he knows what it's like to go through this transition, and he knows the biggest challenges.
"I think the chemistry," he said. "I've played with Lou (Amundson, his former Suns teammate), I know what he does really well, but the other players I don't really know what they like to do, their space on the court and everything. But I talked to the coach, the coach said he is going to help me a lot."
What seemed to please Barbosa the most was to rejoin a team in the thick of a playoff chase.
"Now that I'm here I'm very happy to be involved on the team," he said. "The main thing right now is going to the playoffs and hopefully we go and we do really well. … I saw the energy, I saw the friendship and I think that's very important on a team that wants to go to the playoffs. I think they've got everything they need. Hopefully everything goes well and we go to the Finals."
Now that would be fast.