Vogel Ends Regular Season With Award
In yesterday's Pacers Playoff Notebook, I had noted that Indiana Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel "Vogel will be the first to give the credit to the players, his staff, and the fans of the Pacers for his success". So, it was no surprise what his reaction was to the media moments after he found out he was named the Eastern Conference Head Coach of the Month of April.
"I have no words, it is very, very humbling," said Vogel, who's Pacers went 12-3 during the final month of the season. "It is a credit to these guys as they have been extremely dialed in, focused, and quite frankly it is a credit to Larry Bird for bringing Barbosa in. That changed our team and helped us go on a run towards the end of the season."
That momentum that the Pacers carried into the playoffs has Vogel reminding his players of the last team to win a championship in a shortened season.
"I have talked about it for three weeks about the psychological edge that comes with being the hottest team in the NBA," said Vogel.
"I think it prevalent throughout our own team in how we carry ourselves. I think it is a psychological advantage over whoever your opponent is, and that has been our goal going into these playoffs. To be the hottest team in the NBA. We talked about the last lockout season, and the team that won the NBA Championship that year in the San Antonio Spurs (37-13 squad that defeated the New York Knicks in five games). They had never done anything before then, and they went into that playoffs on a 12-1 run. We talked to our team in the last four weeks about going into the playoffs on that type of run, and giving ourselves a chance to shock the world."
But in order for the Pacers to use that confidence and winning swagger to their advantage, they will have to find a way to limit the Orlando Magic (37-29) on their three-point shooting abilities. During the shortened 2011-12 season the Magic shot the most attempts from behind the arc in the league with a total of 1,785 attempts, most in the league and 721 more than Indiana attempted. Most impressively though, the Magic finished third in three-point percentage with a final tally of .375.
"Anybody that knows basketball knows that a three-point shooting team like Orlando is extremely dangerous," said Vogel. "It doesn't matter who is in the middle, they can get red hot and shoot you out of the game. So our arms are going to be up and we will be ready to go."
Power forward Ryan Anderson (16.1 ppg.) attempted and made the most three-point shots in the NBA during the season, going 166 for 422 from behind the arc. However guards Chris Duhon (.420) and J.J. Redick sport better shooting percentages from behind the arc, and Vogel doesn't expect the Magic's shooting tendencies to change in anyway despite the absence of Dwight Howard to open up shots.
"It doesn't matter if is Dwight Howard, Big Baby, or Earl Clark, they are extremely dangerous with how they spread the floor with Anderson and all their shooters," said Vogel. "In a lot of ways they are just as dangerous, if not even more dangerous, because they are shooting even more threes"
Roy Hibbert is Wearing His Game Face
At 12:57 a.m. Saturday morning, with with tip-off of game one just a little over 18 hours away, Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert sent out a message to his fans over Twitter.
"@Hoya2aPacer: It's playoff season.Studying film on Orl right now. Gonna b a tough series."
Hibbert's focus and demeanor was apparent during Friday afternoon's practice as well, as the normal fun-loving big guy was as straight to the arrow as one can be.
"We have a lot of work to do," said Hibbert. "We are hungry, and Orlando is a good team despite losing Dwight. We are not taking anybody lightly."
Roy made a point to mention that his game will not be changed with the absence of Dwight Howard on Saturday night, as he will still continue to attempt to dominate the low-post through rebounding and defense as he has during his breakout season. Hibbert averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds during his fourth year in the league, but his numbers dipped to 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds against the Magic with Howard in the line-up.
The past results throughout the season don't seem to effect Hibbert's mindset that his rival won't be on the court.
"I'm going to be aggressive," said Hibbert. "I'm just going to play my game like I have been doing all year. You guys will see what I do out there tomorrow night."
Head Coach Frank Vogel believes that Hibbert will be able to take advantage of the situation, but don't expect the Pacers to be pounding the ball down to him on every play.
"We aren't going to over-emphasize Roy Hibbert," said Vogel.
"We have a lot of matchups and a lot of different positions, and mismatches we feel that we can exploit. Roy is just one of those. We feel like we can go inside to him, and he's got to be a factor in a number of ways. Not just low-post touches, but random duck-ins, being on the glass, and in particular anchoring our defense. With him being in there staying home on the rim, while we are guarding shooters is going to be a critical element to defeating these guys."
Hill Doesn't Want Pacers to Overthink Playoffs
Newly named Pacers starting point guard George Hill has seen teams with high expectations flounder before. Twice while playing on San Antonio the Spurs lost out in the first round while sporting one of the best records in the league, including a first round exit to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies last season after finishing 61-21 during the regular season. Hill has mentioned earlier in the week that those past memories are well behind him, that if he were to focus on the past he would trip on the future, and that winning with the Pacers now has his prime attention.
But it doesn't mean that Hill can't spread some conventional wisdom to his teammates that haven't been in this position as a favorite and number-three seed in a series before.
"We should do nothing different," said Hill with a soft voice.
"I think you make mistakes when you change who you are. I'll be taking the same approach that I have taken every single other game, and I'm sure all the other players will do the same. It will be a little bit more exciting since it is the playoffs, and that's what we have worked all season long before. But we have to keep the same approach."
Hill (9.6 ppg, 2.9 ast) talked about the challenge that playing a former all-star in Jameer Nelson (11.9 ppg) will bring, but just hopes the Pacers can keep a steady and calm head while riding the hot streak they rolled through April with.
"When you are rolling towards the end of the playoffs it helps you," said Hill. "But at the same time, it also can hurt you. You can be overexcited about who you are playing and take them for granted. So we just have to be prepared for them as they will be prepared for us."
Notes: Leandro Barbosa did some light shooting on Friday with his twisted ankle, and will be a game-time decision to see if he will play. Danny Granger also sat out drills during practice to rest his knee, but is expected to be 100% for Saturday night's 7:30 tip-off at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tickets can be found on Stubhub for Saturday night's game for as low as $4.00 as of 1:58 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Pacers Playoffs Notebook: Vogel named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month
As Indiana (42-24) finished their preparations for the Orlando Magic (37-29), Head Coach Frank Vogel was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for April.
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