When the NFL announces the release of the upcoming season’s schedule, everyone pays attention. Why should that be any different for Pacers fans?
The difference between the NFL and NBA schedules is pretty obvious. When people check out the NFL schedule, they are looking at what teams they will be playing. With the NBA schedule, everyone plays everyone so that really doesn’t matter. What matters is the dates and road trips that the teams will be facing.
There are a few bumps in the road I see for the Pacers next year. The first one comes in late November, where they will face four teams that are serious Championship contenders. On November 20th, the Pacers will host the Orlando Magic. After that, they head to Miami to get their first look at the LeBron, Wade, Bosh trio. The following day the team returns home to face LeBron’s old team, the Cavs. They may not be title contenders, but it is the perfect trap game. After the game vs Cleveland, the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town, and one thing is for sure, they are the real deal. After that game, the team heads to L.A. to face the defending champion Lakers, in what will be a tough west coast trip that includes the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns.
The second speed bump will come just before Christmas. The Pacers have seven games in 11 days, with three road games and four at home. They will be facing the Bobcats, Hawks, Bulls, Lakers, Cavs, Celtics, and Hornets. The only good news that comes from this is that the two meetings they have with the Lakers this year will both come before Christmas. Hopefully the Lakers won’t be playing their best, and Bynum might still be out.
The other tough stretch I see for the Pacers comes in late February, early March. Beginning February 25th, the team faces the Jazz, Suns, and Warriors at home. From there, they head out west to Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Houston. These six games in nine days against Western Conference teams will not come easy at all.
Some other interesting notes from the upcoming schedule…
The Pacers will play each Western Conference team twice. They will face the Magic, Heat, Raptors, and Nets three times during the season, and all other Eastern Conference teams four times each. Even though they play the Pistons four times during the year, they won’t have their first match up until after Valentine’s Day.
Last year’s Player of the Year in College Basketball, Evan Turner, will be back at Conseco Fieldhouse for the Pacers’ first home game of the season on October 30th. Turner had a great Big 10 Tournament at Conseco last year.
Speaking of returns, L.A. Clippers guard and former Indiana Hoosier Eric Gordon will be back in Indy on November 18th. Greg Oden and the Blazers won’t be here until February 4th, so there is no guarantee Oden will be healthy at that point in time.
The Pacers have an afternoon game in New York against the Knicks on January 2nd. Will the team be spending New Year’s Even in New York? This could turn into a disaster if the team hasn’t learned from their past mistakes.
The good news is the Pacers will have home games before and after both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so they will be home for the holidays.
I look forward to getting the season started this year, and hope with the recent additions and possible moves that could come soon, maybe, just maybe…the Pacers can get back to where they belong.