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Indianapolis (Dec. 8, 2011) -- The real test awaits, of course. When training camp begins Friday in Conseco Fieldhouse, the players will get a much better idea of just how well they kept themselves in shape.
Two-a-days don't lie.
To this point, however, the Pacers have passed the eye test with flying colors. Of the 10 players that have been working out on the practice court through Wednesday, all appear not only healthy but at least as fit as could be expected.
"Everybody looks in good shape," said Darren Collison. "I think everybody was eager to come back and play so they were preparing themselves."
With a compressed training camp and only a two-game preseason to prepare, teams that don't have to spend as much time playing catch-up with conditioning will be in the best position out of the gate. And with 15 of their first 22 on the road, the Pacers need to position themselves as well as humanly possible.
A few players had specific goals in mind. After trimming down last summer, Roy Hibbert bulked up this time around, adding 15 pounds of muscle. Paul George also wanted to add strength and said he is carrying an additional 10 pounds as a result of work in the weight room. Danny Granger hasn't spoken with media members yet but also appears to be a little thicker up top.
"Getting stronger was the biggest thing because I was getting knocked around in the playoffs and toward the end of the season," Hibbert said. "I'm going to play a lot stronger this year."
"Everyone's just got to be self-motivated," George said. "We knew whenever (the lockout) was over with, it's going to get serious and guys are going to get serious and pick it up and play at a high level so you definitely don't want to get left behind. Everything this summer has been self-motivated and making sure you were ready."
Lance Stephenson, who spent his summer in Indianapolis working out constantly, appears trimmer. He said the players kept in contact both to monitor and motivate the conditioning work.
"I've been playing hard during the whole summer, working out with my teammates and stuff. I think I'll be in great shape," Stephenson said. "I think this is one of the best groups we'll ever have. Everybody's been checking up on one another and I made sure everybody else was working out so I think we'll be good. Jeff (Foster) was the leader, he made sure everybody was working out."
Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Foster, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush also reported early to take advantage of the facilities at CFH.
"It's instinct. Our bodies are accustomed to what time of season it is right now and that's to play basketball and I think we're all ready to go right away," said Jones. "I think that's the best part about us being young. The guys still play basketball as their hobby and they all look in good shape, they look great health-wise and I think guys will be ready to start with great energy come Friday."