Pacers' playoff preview

The Indiana Pacers are ready for a fresh start in the playoffs.

After wrapping up the regular-season Wednesday night with a loss to Philadelphia, the Pacers went back to work Thursday preparing for Sunday's first-round opener against Atlanta.

The expectations are different this year. In 2011, Indiana seemed satisfied with ending its four-year playoff drought. Last year, the Pacers won their first playoff series in seven years. This year, they expect to go deeper into the postseason than just the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But if they're going to achieve that, they'll need to play better offensively and defensively than they finished the season, and they'll need key contributions from the only starter with no playoff experience -- forward Lance Stephenson.