AL HAMNIK: Pacers heating up their series with Miami

2013-05-20T17:45:00Z 2013-05-25T18:59:03Z AL HAMNIK: Pacers heating up their series with MiamiAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 20, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

Name calling and organized sports go together like buttered popcorn.

Flapping your gums is a dumb thing to do because everyone is thin-skinned today. Sadly, it doesn't take much to set someone off, even if the comments were made tongue-in-cheek.

Occasionally, there are games won with bulletin-board material. And the social media epidemic doesn't help. Criticize a team, an athlete or coach, and the world finds out the moment those words leave your mouth or keyboard.

I get so tired of people using the "disrespect" card.

Frank Vogel is not known for trash talking or showboating. But the Pacers coach is remarkably candid and blunt.

After disposing of the over-rated Knicks on Saturday night, Vogel talked about the team just getting "warmed up" as it prepared for Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.

He had every reason to be proud of his Pacers, who have gotten this far without injured superstar Danny Granger.

"This is not about getting back at Miami (for last year's playoffs). If you're in the final four, you're competing for a championship. For a championship," Vogel said.

Then he fired a shot heard throughout Miami.

"They're just the next team that's in our way," Vogel said, stating a simple fact.

LeBron James and the defending champion Heat didn't see it that way.

"We're a great team. You don't prepare for 'just another team,'" James countered. "We're not just another team. You have to prepare for us."

How can you not love these NBA playoffs?

Out West, you've got the two best teams -- San Antonio and Memphis -- engaged in a very entertaining finals with coaches and players carefully weighing their words and being respectful of each other regardless of the Spurs' blowout win in Game 1.

The Pacers and Heat are different. They loathe each other.

It started in last year's playoffs, which resembled an MMA event with bloodied lips, noses, "choke" signs, a flurry of technical fouls and other extra-curricular activity.

"We don't need bulletin-board material," James told media on Sunday.

Then don't put on your pouty face. Save your anger for the games.

The Pacers were 2-1 against Miami this season and held that same lead in last year's playoffs before falling.

So excuse Vogel's excitement at Indiana possibly making its first trip to the NBA Finals since 2000.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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