Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy was with Indiana during an important turning point in recent franchise history.
On Jan. 30, 2011, the Pacers fired coach Jim O'Brien and replaced him with assistant Frank Vogel. Since that date, the Pacers have posted a 122-74 record, pending Tuesday's game at Detroit.
"I'm not (surprised), because he's a great person, a positive person," Dunleavy said of Vogel. "He really knows the game. I think his personality has a great impact on that team. He knows how to coach a team. So that mix of getting along well with the players, as well as putting them in the right positions to succeed, is a recipe for success."
After taking over at midseason, Vogel led the Pacers to the playoffs, ending with a first-round loss to the Bulls. That was Dunleavy's first postseason appearance of his NBA career. After the season, Dunleavy signed with Milwaukee as a free agent.
Dunleavy said Vogel wasn't necessarily a featured assistant before taking over the head job.
"Jim is a guy whose voice was heard a lot. He did most of the talking," Dunleavy said. "So Frank didn't get to do a whole lot of stuff with the team. But he did a lot of stuff individually.
"He always had a good way about him. You could tell that was going to pay off in some fashion, and here he is one of premier coaches in the league."
Pacers avoid slow start:
While supposed Eastern Conference contenders such as the Bulls, Miami, Brooklyn and New York suffered two losses in the opening week of the season, Indiana cruised to a 3-0 start heading into Tuesday's game in Detroit. The Bulls will face the Pacers on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
Maybe an easy schedule (Orlando, New Orleans and Cleveland) helped. The Pacers lead the league in fewest points allowed (83.7) per game and are averaging an impressive 12 blocked shots per game as a team.
Bulls swingman Mike Dunleavy spent parts of five seasons playing for Indiana, but he says he won't get sentimental about this trip.
"It's nice to go back and see some people," he said. "At the same time, playing in the Central Division, whether it's with the Bucks or Bulls, it's a rivalry. You've got to take care of business and win."
Practice might pay off:
With three days off following Saturday's loss in Philadelphia, the Bulls had the chance to log roughly five hours on the practice court heading into the Indiana game. The Bulls still had some chemistry issues to sort out when the regular season began.
"I don't know if we ramped it up," coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday. "The good thing was we had everybody participate. I think that's critical. I'm not surprised some people aren't in rhythm yet. You can't miss an entire training camp, a good chunk of it, and expect to play well."
Added Mike Dunleavy, "We're trying to get better. Starting off 1-2 is not good enough for us. We've got to make some improvements. We had to spend a little more time in the gym and hopefully it will pay off."