They made a big fuss in Indiana earlier this month when Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel celebrated his 100th win as coach of the NBA team. That was a fine gesture, for the moment, but plenty will be expected of the Pacers coach when the playoffs start.
Pacer fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too high since most observers don’t expect the Pacers to win the NBA title. Many don’t expect them to beat the Miami Heat in the NBA East finals. Others won’t expect them to get that far, insisting the New York Knicks will face the Heat in the finals instead.
The question is: does Vogel have the Pacers at their best at a critical time of season? The Miami Heat are streaking, but the Pacers are not. Losses to the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers this week make some wonder if this is truly a team that can go a long way in the playoffs.
Yes, the Pacers can be a strong playoff team. They can get to the NBA Finals, they can beat the Heat and they can win it all.
But Vogel has to have them more than ready. He didn’t have them ready against the Heat and the Lakers. It didn’t look like the Pacers of old when they played these two teams. The Miami loss was understandable because of the environment, but if the two teams meet in the postseason, Vogel has to have his team ready to win at least one game in Miami.
The loss to the Lakers was a little more worrisome for Pacer fans. The game was at home and the Lakers were without a healthy Kobe Bryant for most of the game.
While George Hill shot 11-for-19 overall, Indiana’s other four starters combined to shoot 18-for-57 for 31.6 percent. The Pacers bench was outscored 37-19.
That can’t happen in the playoffs. It’s Vogel’s job, 100 wins or not, to make sure it doesn’t happen.