Rising Expectations in Indiana

Two years ago, the Pacers were a feisty, but easy, out for the Bulls in the first-round of the playoffs. Last year, they were an even feistier, highly difficult out for the Heat. This year? Well, people around the team want more. (via Sports Illustrated)

“We do have high expectations and with that comes a different kind of burden,” said swingman Danny Granger, who has been slowed throughout the preseason with a patella tendon injury in his left knee. “With the guys coming back, I feel like we’re further along than we ever have been.”

The coach agrees with his captain.

“This team has got ability, there’s not been a lot of change,” coach Frank Vogel said. “My approach is just the understanding that this team is a year further along with experience and the bench is deeper.”

Stability should help the Pacers, too, who would like to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000.

“We want to grow. From looking at a playoff standpoint, we got to the second round last year, so we’re hoping to get further than that. We got a third seed in the regular season and we’re hoping to do better than that,” Vogel said. “Those are probably the first steps in terms of taking that next step as a franchise. We finished the season last year feeling like we were good enough to win the championship and we’re a team that sets our sights high and we shoot for the moon.”

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