The Indiana Pacers surprised fans and analysts alike during the 2011-12 NBA season by posting a 42-24 record and capturing the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, head coach Frank Vogel is already stressing to his team that the Chicago Bulls are a huge obstacle to overcome. The Pacers are young, and players like Paul George and Roy Hibbert are expected to be even better during the upcoming season, but it was the Bulls who finished with the best record in the conference last season.
Derrick Rose is still recovering from surgery, and the Bulls restructured their excellent bench during the off-season, yet Vogel isn't going to let his team take anything for granted when it comes to talk of a division title (via ESPN Chicago):
"My message to our guys when we started today was, yes, we want to win our division ... but we are not sleeping on the Chicago Bulls. They went 18-6 without Derrick Rose in the lineup, so to think all of a sudden they're this team that's a non-factor is crazy. They've got one of the best coaches in the league and one of the best systems. We're not sleeping on them in any way, shape or form."
The Pacers re-signed point guard George Hill and center Roy Hibbert during the off-season, signed D.J. Augustin and acquired Ian Mahinmi from the Mavericks.