Frank Vogel knows very well what his objectives are for the Indiana Pacers this season after falling just short against the Miami Heat in the NBA Eastern Conference finals. Vogel has known since that last game that the Pacers won’t tolerate anything but a trip to the NBA Finals this season. He might be able to lose the final series and still keep his job, but he has to take this team to the final round at the very least.
An impressive 99-91 road win at the Detroit Pistons Tuesday night has the Pacers at 4-0 and obviously on the way to their main goal for the 82-game regular season to get that No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and perhaps the entire NBA. Getting the best conference mark would give the Pacers home-court advantage all the way though the Eastern Conference playoffs. That by itself hardly guarantees success, but it’s a step in the right direction. Having the best record all season in the conference is critical. Miami was able to play the decisive Game 7 with the Pacers at home. The home team doesn’t always win on Game 7, but the odds are in its favor.
Vogel simply needs to do what he did with the team a year ago but just a little better. They need to avoid lengthy slumps in order to keep pace with the Heat for the best record. He also needs to develop plenty of depth over the course of the season so the Pacers can take a strong bench into the playoffs. He needs to keep the Pacers constantly hungry and never tired of winning, which can happen in a long regular season. He can’t do much with injuries to players like Danny Granger and George Hill, but if Vogel wants to help the Pacers fulfill their ultimate dreams this season he needs to make sure they put themselves in a position to control their own destiny.