INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers will welcome a familiar face to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday night, as former head coach Frank Vogel and the Orlando Magic will be in town. Vogel coached the Pacers for the previous six seasons. He holds the most wins in franchise history and compiled the second-best winning percentage for any Pacers head coach (.580).
Larry Bird made a somewhat surprising move in the offseason, replacing Vogel with Nate McMillan. Both teams are off to slow starts this season, as they each enter Monday night with a 4-6 record. But Vogel’s Magic just took down the Thunder on Sunday and are hoping to build off that victory.
For the most part, Vogel was well-liked in Indianapolis, and the fans should respond accordingly.
"I think Frank will get a great reaction," said McMillan. "The fans will be able to show their appreciation for all that he contributed here."
"It’ll be great," Paul George told the Indianapolis Star. "I’m sure it’ll be an emotional moment for himself and for our crowd."
Vogel agrees. "I have a lot of strong ties still there," he told the Orlando Sentinel. "Some of my best basketball moments of my life were coaching the Pacers."
The Pacers had aspirations of being a top team in the Eastern Conference this season, but have struggled to find their identity in the early going. They’re coming off an uninspiring week in which they played two overtime games with Philadelphia, including one loss, and their first home loss of the season on Saturday night against Boston.
Indiana is hoping to have George back in action. He missed Saturday’s game with a sprained ankle.
Scoring has not been the issue for the Pacers, as they’ve averaged 108.4 points per game so far, good enough for fifth in the NBA.
The opposite has been true for Orlando. Coming into Sunday night, the Magic were last in the NBA at 92.3 points per game. They exploded for 119 points in the win over Oklahoma City. They were led by Serge Ibaka, who scored 31 points and hit the game-winning shot against his former team.
"I’m not going to lie to you, it felt good," Ibaka said after the game.
The Magic were able to withstand Russell Westbrook’s monster night (41 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds) in the win.
Both of these teams are among the NBA’s worst in team defensive rating. They both are giving up over 108 points per 100 possessions, which is rare for one of Vogel’s teams. It will be an intriguing matchup for two teams that are both searching for their own identity.
The Magic will be without Jodie Meeks (fractured fifth metatarsal) and the Pacers will be without Rodney Stuckey (right hamstring strain.)
Indiana went 2-1 against the Magic last season and have won 11 of the last 13 meetings overall. Monday will be the first of four matchups between these teams this season.