Ever since Frank Vogel took over as head coach of the Pacers last season, he has tried to instill a level of confidence that did not often exist under the previous head coach. Vogel has not been shy in spreading the message both inside the locker room and through the media that the Pacers can achieve greatness sooner rather than later. Moments after a 111-88 victory over Minnesota, Vogel explained he no longer needs to boost up the teams' morale.
"I told our guys before the game, 'We're 8-1 in April. We have the best record in the NBA in April. Me talking about believing in how good we can be, it's no longer a sell-job. I'm not trying to persuade our guys that we can be great. They believe it," said Vogel Monday.
"We're coming out and trying to make the right play every single time. That's imperative for us to continue to the momentum that we're starting to build, and hopefully be playing some of our best ball about a week and a half from now," said David West who led the Pacers with 22 points.
While Minnesota does not possess a playoff-caliber roster right now, the Timberwolves recently played very competitive against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Monday's lopsided victory improved the Pacers record to 9-1 in April, and was just another example of Vogel's team taking care of business as they get ready for the post-season.
"Our focus level is really high right now. We know what is at stake. We know what happens if we lose a game, a couple of teams can catch us and we lose home-court advantage in the first round so, that is really the prize that we're after right now. After we take care of that, we can worry about everything else," added Danny Granger who contributed 19 points in 26 minutes of game action.
What a difference a year makes. Last April, the Pacers clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference very late in the regular season. They had to face the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round. While they were big underdogs in that series, Frank Vogel never shied away from telling the media how much he believed in his underdog squad.
One year later, the Pacers are fighting for home-court advantage; clicking on all cylinders, and do not need any magical pep talks to get them to believe.
"It's just a matter of going out and having fun, and raising the level of play every time we're out there," added Vogel.
The Pacers drive for home-court in the first round continues Tuesday with a trip to Philadelphia. This is their final road game of the regular season and if things go according to plan, their final game away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the month of April.
"I feel very fortunate to be in this position with this team, to clinch a playoff spot and have a chance to have home-court advantage," added Hibbert.
The 2012 NBA Playoffs are coming and these Pacers could not appear more ready for a little May Madness in Indianapolis.
Pacers enjoy dominant performance against Minnesota Monday
The Pacers led 32-13 after one quarter and never looked back en route to a 111-88 victory over the Timberwolves
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