“If we’re the same team that we were last year, that won’t be good enough,” Spoelstra said. “Period. Fact. That’s why we’ve spent so much time this year trying to develop habits to improve. We don’t feel we’re the same team that played the Indiana Pacers last year.”
Of course, the Pacers feel the same way.
Indiana took Sunday off, after the grind of a six-game second-round series against the New York Knicks ended, and is expected to start its Heat-centric workouts on Monday in Indianapolis before flying to Miami on Tuesday.
“We were up 2-1 last year,” Pacers forward David West said. “We dropped the ball.”
When Indiana beat the Knicks and finished off that series on Saturday night, Vogel and his players were standing in the center of their locker room a few moments after the final buzzer, many of them cheering and applauding.
“I believe we’re just getting warmed up,” Vogel told them.
A few minutes later, flanked by his two daughters in a postgame interview, Vogel talked about the Pacers getting one step further — at least — in this year’s playoffs than they did a year ago.
“Every team that’s on a championship journey takes steps each year, take it a step further than they were the year before,” Vogel said. “We were a first-round elimination team two years ago against the Bulls. Made it to the second round last year, got knocked out by Miami. Just proud of the yearlong effort to take that next step.”
Not long afterward, he was asked about playing the Heat again.
“This is not about getting back at Miami,” Vogel said. “If you’re in the final four, you’re competing for a championship. You’re competing for a championship. And they’re just the next team that’s in our way.”