Indiana Pacers: Season opener against the Hornets is a clash of philosophies

Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

After two seasons of being stowed away from normalcy, the 2021-22 NBA regular season will see teams resume their usual 82-game slates starting tomorrow. The Indiana Pacers, fresh off preseason action, are slated to kick off their campaign Wednesday night on the road against the Charlotte Hornets.

Despite middling in the preliminaries, the Pacers now have a blank canvass to work on in hopes of returning to the playoffs this season after missing it in the previous one. To launch them into their campaign, the season opener against the Hornets will be an interesting matchup on various aspects, especially with a clash of philosophies in tow.

The Indiana Pacers’ season opener against the Charlotte Hornets presents a clash of both style and direction

Indiana and Charlotte couldn’t be more at odds with each other. As the Pacers ride their veteran core to regain their lost place in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets are bannered by their up-and-coming cogs as they attempt to etch an identity for themselves in the league.

While the Blue and Gold begin the season with their usual set of injuries, All-Star Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, on the heels of a contract extension, lead the pack while Myles Turner, Caris LeVert and TJ Warren round out the veteran core.

On the flip side, the Buzz City is spearheaded by LaMelo Ball, last season’s Rookie of the Year. Former All-Star Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier also set the tone for the team’s abundance of springy and talented youngsters in Miles Bridges, PJ Washington and James Bouknight, among others.

The contrast between both clubs doesn’t end there. On the hardwood, both teams also play different styles. After last season’s blistering design, the Pacers are now reverting to their deliberate scoring attack under coach Rick Carlisle. Alas, the team will once again deploy its two-center configuration to open games.

Meanwhile, the Hornets, after ranking eighth in pace last season, will be well-manned to bump up their speed further as the roster is littered with high-flyers and perimeter creators. Small-ball is also a point of emphasis, with coach James Borrego going full throttle on five-out sets with Washington at the 5, especially with starting center Mason Plumlee possibly missing the season opener.

While games in October are far from having dire consequences, the Indiana Pacers have to start the season on a positive note considering their tough early schedule as they seek to find their footing in the standings. However, their opening matinee in Charlotte will be difficult, especially with the Hornets presenting a different outfit from what the Pacers are familiar with, both in disposition and theatrics.

As an end note, the Hornets probably don’t want to lose to the same team that ended their campaign last season to kick things off, right?

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