Larry Bird just called.

“Tweet this,” he said. “They’re soft. S-O-F-T. Soft.”

OK, the former Indiana Pacers coach and president did not call.

But if he was still running the show for the Pacers, he might be inclined to put down his beer long enough to drop the late-night call.

The Pacers had a chance to step on the Atlanta Hawks’ throat Saturday night, a chance to get them thinking about their exit interviews and vacation plans, and came up gruesomely short. They not only lost Game 3 90-69, but they gave Atlanta the one thing they sorely lacked — hope.

Now the Hawks believe they’ve found something, specifically the big lineup that features Johan Petro at center instead of Kyle Korver on the wing. That means Josh Smith plays the small forward, and that means Paul George now has a much tougher defensive duty than he did the first two games. Smith had his way with George in the post, and both Al Horford and Petro, along with Ivan Johnson, neutralized David West and Roy Hibbert.

The Pacers knew the big lineup was coming. This wasn’t a surprise. If anything, the surprise was it didn’t happen in Game 2.

“To be honest, I thought they’d do it after Game 1,” Hibbert said.

Which raises a question: Why did it take Hawks coach Larry Drew two games to reach the conclusion Korver couldn’t guard Paul George? Especially when his team was being badly out-rebounded and generally punked in the paint?

Odd.

If and when the Hawks lose this series, Hawks’ fans — the few, the proud — will ask the same question.

But Drew changed up in time to make this series at least mildly interesting in the short term.

The Pacers were, in a word, awful.

Historically awful.

Sixty-nine points, just 30 in the first half.

Twenty-seven percent shooting.

Twenty-two turnovers, leading to 24 points.

Four-for-25 from behind the 3-point arc.

Two-of-15 shooting from George Hill and Lance Stephenson, including five turnovers.

The Pacers hit season lows in everything, including effort.