Posted October 29, 2012 on
AP on Fox
After winning a playoff series for the first time in seven seasons, the Indiana Pacers want to take the next step.
Preseason predictions that the Toronto Raptors will suffer through a fifth straight losing season have them motivated to prove the naysayers wrong.
The Pacers won all three meetings with the Raptors in 2011-12, and they'll look to make it four straight in the series in the teams' opener Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre.
Indiana went 42-24 last season for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers knocked out Orlando in the first round for their first series victory since 2005 before losing to eventual champion Miami in the conference semifinals.
With Derrick Rose injured to start the season for Central Division champion Chicago, Indiana believes it can finish even higher in 2012-13.
"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,'' coach Frank Vogel said. "Those are probably the first steps in terms of taking that next step as a franchise."
Star swingman Danny Granger is back to lead a promising group that includes Roy Hibbert and Indianapolis product George Hill, both signed to long-term deals in the offseason.
"We do have high expectations and with that comes a different kind of burden," said Granger, who has been slowed throughout the preseason by 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."
Toronto went 23-43 a season ago with star forward Andrea Bargnani missing more than half of it with numerous injuries. His absence was a big reason why the Raptors were the third-lowest scoring team in the NBA at 90.7 points per game.
Not surprisingly, little improvement is expected from Toronto this season - which the club seems ready to use as a rallying point.
"Some people say they don't read the negative stuff and everything," said swingman DeMar DeRozan, who has also been the target of criticism despite averaging 16.7 points last season. "I use it as motivation. It's frustrating at times. It makes you want to work that much harder at the end of the day, prove everybody wrong."
The Raptors have some new faces, and their most anticipated debut will be by rookie 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas. The Lithuanian center, Toronto's first-round pick in 2011, missed training camp but averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in six preseason games.
"I think I'm learning something from every practice so whenever you're moving, whenever you're doing something, you're learning something," Valanciunas said. "So I am trying to learn as much as I can."
Toronto has added point guards Kyle Lowry and John Lucas as well as swingman Landry Fields to complement the nucleus of first-round picks Bargnani, DeRozan and Valanciunas.
In some ways, the Raptors are building their team in similar fashion to the Pacers. Indiana posted five straight losing records before last season.
"We have something special here," the Pacers' Paul George said. "That makes it even more exciting knowing that everybody's on the same page.''
George, Granger and Hill all averaged 14.3 points in the 2011-12 sweep of Toronto. DeRozan averaged 18.3.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey is 3-0 in season openers.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
While it’s not exactly news that Pacers guard Gerald Green can get up, given that he won the McDonald’s High School All American dunk contest and the NBA dunk contest in 2007 as well as runner up in 2008, it’s … Continue reading →
Gerald Green's return to the NBA last year meant at least one thing: more awesome dunking Youtube videos.
Green's Pacers teammates had the unfortunately task of practicing alley-oop dunks before the former Celtics first-round pick at practice. Green outshined them all with his hops, soaring above the rim for a windmill and a two-handed slam. He was just...
Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger is out indefinitely because of a sore left knee.
Team officials said Tuesday that Granger will get a second opinion on the injury and an update will be provided following that visit.
The announcement comes one day before Indiana opens its season at Toronto, and losing the 6-foot- 8 former All-Star could be a real blow. Granger led the Pacers...
Last week, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George tweeted a picture of teammate Gerald Green looking down at a ten foot rim.Below is the photo that George posted on his account and soon after, some skeptics thought the picture had been faked somehow:For those of you who think the picture was faked, you need to check out this video of Green doing the leap and clearly, the jump was legit:
The Indiana Pacers are definitely a team to watch in the east this upcoming season. Especially if you have an affinity for high flying dunkers. The photo above was posted to Paul George’s instagram account of teammate Gerald Green kissing the rim. Check out video from the Pacers fan jam of the two showcasing [...]
Tweet Forward Danny Granger, the Indiana Pacers leading scorer each of the last five seasons, will be out indefinitely with soreness in his left knee, per a report from the Pacers official Twitter account: Forward @dgranger33 has continued soreness in his left knee and will be out indefinitely. — Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 30, 2012 [...]
Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger will be out indefinitely with continued soreness in his left knee, the team announced Tuesday. Granger will get a second opinion from doctors. The 29-year-old is entering his eighth season with the Pacers. He started 62 games last season and averaged 18.7 points per game.
We all know that Gerald Green is an athletic freak. But this video is just further confirmation of that fact.
Watch as Green jumps during a Indiana Pacers training session, with his head well and truly above the rim.
Episode 29 of RAPS TALK (10.29.12) - It's the latest episode of our "preseason" podcast series. This week, Sean, U-E and I give our preview for this upcoming season for the Toronto Raptors, discuss our thoughts on the rookies (Valanciunas/Ross/Acy) and talk about our new segment "The Raptors Haha of the Week". We also introduce another one of our newest...
Here we go. The 2012-2013 NBA season kicks off on Tuesday, with the Indiana Pacers opening their campaign against the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday.It's an exciting time to be a Pacers fan, after this rising team of young talents and experienced veterans defied expectations to finish with a 42-24 record last season (equivalent to 52 games in an 82-game season) before pushing...
Check out this pic of former Celtics slam dunk champion Gerald Green at a Pacers practice. Say what you will about his game, but his jumping ability is simply unreal.
This season will be a make or break year for DeRozan in Toronto. He is due for an extension and his agent will likely be looking for a large payday. If the Raptors don’t make the playoffs and DeRozan struggles, if he doesn’t find that magic chemistry with Lowry and the rest of the team, he may find himself wearing a new uniform this time next year.
The Raptors 18th season kicks off on Wednesday night when they host the Indiana Pacers at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. After a roughly six month hiatus since their last meaningful (and I do use that term very loosely) action, and a pre-season showing that has taken expectations up a level or two, the anticipation for opening night is as high in Raptor Nation as it has been since...