Pacers look forward to strong finish after All-Star weekend
Pacers forward Paul George, center Roy Hibbert, Head Coach Frank Vogel and his coaching staff return to Indianapolis Monday for practice, after enjoying an NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans that celebrated the Pacers success this season. Vogel coached the East to a 163-155 comeback win Sunday night in the All-Star game.
"It was the best, a neat experience, just being around all these great talents, some Hall of Fame players and superstars," said Vogel. "Just being able to be a part of this weekend I've been watching since I was a little kid is pretty special."
George scored 18 points for the East, including three free throws that gave the East the lead for good with less than two minutes left in the game.
"It was a lot of fun teaming up with Lebron (James), Melo (Carmelo Anthony), (Kyrie) Irving," said Paul George. "It's fun playing with those guys. We're always so competitive during the year. This is a nice night of fun."
Hibbert scored 8 points and grabbed five rebounds in his second All-Star game. Hibbert only missed one of his five shots. He hopes he'll be back again soon.
"I would love for that to happen," said Hibbert. "But players get better, injuries happen sometimes, so hopefully I'll be injury free and have team success and personal success where I can come back here again."
The Pacers return to action Tuesday night at home against the Atlanta Hawks at 7:00 p.m. before a trip to Minnesota Wednesday night.
"I just have to go back and work hard," said Hibbert. "We have a back-to-back right out of the gate. I have to focus. I didn't get as much rest as I wanted to this weekend, but that's to be expected and nobody is going to cry for me. So I have to get my mind right and ready to go."
With 30 games to go in the regular season, the Pacers own the best record in the Eastern Conference at 40-12.
"Hopefully all the guys got a nice two to three days of rest," said George, "because we're going to have to come back to the second half of the year and play at a higher pace, play at a higher level. We have to expect Miami to go on a huge run. We have to be able to match that."
The Miami Heat is the two-time defending NBA champions and defeated the Pacers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
"Of course, they're a threat," said Heat forward Chris Bosh when asked about the Pacers. "They took us to seven games last year. They're the best team in the East right now. We're trying to catch them. Just to know that they have that hunger, they have the experience and they have the talent, they're a formidable opponent. We're just always looking forward to playing against the best. We'll have a date with destiny soon. We'll be dressed and ready."
The Pacers have made it their goal to finish with the best record in the NBA and secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
"We've got to win them all," said Vogel. "Just win the rest of the games we play. We're going to win them all. We do that we're going to be alright."