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Pacers Look To Improve Play For Home Opener Against Heat

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After much hand wringing over the Indiana Pacers' opening night loss to the Atlanta Hawks, it's time to fire up for tonight's home opener against the Miami Heat.

Look, I understand the growth of hold-over players along with the emphasis on defense we hoped to see didn't transition from words to deeds on the court in Atlanta. Consistency appears like it will be an issue. Coach Dakich also raised a great point on his radio show yesterday the he didn't like the body language of the team. No one was fired up on the bench. T.J. Ford wasn't demanding better of his teammates when they couldn't get him an outlet pass, nor did anyone else step up to demand better. I went back and watched the tape last night looking for what DD was talking about, and he was absolutely right.

A factor worth considering though is all of the new faces on the team. This was the first time together under live fire, and with four of the new faces playing significant minutes there is an adjustment period for all involved. It goes past where do they like the ball and when, but also how do they react. Who needs someone in their face? Who needs a pep talk? Earl Watson was on with JMV yesterday and said he was happy to see his team's disgusted reaction to the loss. He also mentioned trying to evolve into more of a vocal leader while still trying to figure out his teammates.

It's only natural to want to develop a personal comfort level with someone before you can really dig deep and hash out problems while staying on the same page. Only problem is, the Pacers don't have time for that, they need it now. So, T.J., Earl, Danny, someone, it's time to forget comfort levels and put the players on edge and impose your will on the team. Seriously, I can't handle another post game with quotes about just needing to take better care of the ball or until we give a better effort on defense we're going to struggle. Quit talking and do it!

After the jump, plenty of links with reports and video from practice, Granger's thoughts on leading the Pacers and J.O.'s almost giddy anticipation of returning to the Fieldhouse healthy for tonight's game: