Vogel Sends Message About Miami Flopping

by Conrad Brunner

May 11, 2012

Indiana's Paul George backing down Dwyane Wade. Photo credit: Ron Hoskins, NBAE/Getty Images

The series won't begin till Sunday but we already have a juicy subplot.

Frank Vogel made it a point to tell the media after practice Thursday he believes Miami has "the biggest flopping team in the NBA."

"It will be very interesting to see how the referees officiate this series and how much flopping they reward," Vogel said. "Every time you drive to the basket they've got guys not making a play on the ball but sliding in front of drivers, oftentimes they're falling down before contact is even made. It'll be very interesting to see how this series is officiated."

A few moments later, while addressing the quality of the Heat's defense, Vogel circled back to his point.

"Miami is a great defensive team, there's no other way to put it," he said. "They're similar to Orlando from the standpoint of both being under the Pat Riley tree, load to the ball, take away the first option. I think that series against Orlando is going to help prepare us for this series. Now, this team obviously has better length, they're better at stealing the ball, they're better at blocking the ball and of course we've already talked about their charge-taking."

There were several other interesting tidbits from the first prep session for the second round series.

• The Pacers are leaving the underdog card on the table. In fact, they are taking quite the opposite tack. "We feel like we're one of the best teams in the league," Vogel said. "We are not viewing this in any way, shape or form like a David vs. Goliath type of meeting. We are not the underdog here. This is two heavyweights going toe-to-toe. That's how we view this series. We feel like we're one of the best teams and we're looking forward to getting into this series."

• If this is some sort of quest for respect, the players are masking it well. "We're not going out here looking to get respect from anybody," David West said. "We're going out to try to win. Personally, and I know the guys feel the same way, we don't worry about whether the media respects us. The players we're playing against, we know we have their respect. Our obligation is to try to go out and win this first basketball game and that's what we're intent on doing."

• After closing out the Knicks Wednesday night, Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra said the matchup with the Pacers "will feel like it's played in a cage, it'll be that physical." The Pacers couldn't agree more. "That's what the playoffs is all about, physicality," Roy Hibbert said. "He's talking about playoff basketball, so that's fine with us."

• Miami lives in transition and the Pacers beat Orlando largely because of the factors that led to a 69-13 advantage in fast-break points, so could this series boil down to a matter of which team runs the most effectively? "I think that's the series," Paul George said. "They need those transition buckets, they need those deflections to get out and run. If we can be tough with the ball, take care of it and get back on defense, I think we eliminate 10 to 12 points that they possibly could put up."

Collison flying through air under basket. Photo credit: Frank McGrath

• There are no special plans in the words for defending LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Vogel said he thought about mixing in a zone defense but hasn't done so. The series will open with Danny Granger and George defending the two superstars as straight-up as possible. "When we say straight-up, that doesn't mean we're leaving them on an island," Vogel said. "Any time the ball comes to the paint, they have help. That's just good defense. What we're talking about is not double-teaming them every time they touch the ball."

• Dahntay Jones was out of the rotation late in the regular season and against Orlando but could play a bigger role against the Heat. "I'm considering that," Vogel said. "I think Dahntay's going to be a factor in this series. I'm not sure exactly how yet but certainly he's got experience being a defensive stopper at the wing position, which is what you need against this basketball team." There are no such plans for center Kyrylo Fesenko, who likely will remain inactive.

• The team vs. superstars angle will be the underlying theme throughout the series, which is fine by the Pacers. "We're not going to change," West said. "We're comfortable and confident in the brand of basketball we play, the style we play, sharing the basketball, depending and relying on one another. That's not going to change."

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