Despite the 2011-12 NBA season being in limbo, the full league schedule has been released. For the Indiana Pacers, that’s 82 games that may or may not happen, that may or may not be revised, but is scheduled for the time being. Though during this stretch where a shoulder shrug would be a positive sign, the best thing to look at is what kind of impact the postseason showing the blue and gold made had on their return to nationally televised basketball.
Over the past couple of seasons, Indiana has late season games against Detroit and Washington scheduled for ESPN airing, but flex scheduling took both games out of the national spectrum, and aside from some NBA TV games, Indiana has been out of the national picture all together for years, sans a late season flex back in 2008 when ESPN looked to (and did) celebrate Boston’s 60th regular season win that led up to their 2008 Championship run.
So a competitive five game exit in the first round is good for some things, like the team’s first ESPN game since then. Unfortunately, the December 2 game in Portland, scheduled at 10;30 p.m. is it. It appears the Pacers will have to grind for another year and make another positive impression in the postseason to get that respect.
In fact, New Orleans, who has two games themselves, join Indiana as the only 2011 Playoff teams to have less than five ESPN or TNT games. To make matters worse, the slighted Pacers won’t be granted any favors with national broadcasts should the season happen in a shortened capacity. It's a bit of disappointment for fans who saw good things growing out of a postseason Indiana played a part in helping raise its lore as one of the greatest in memory. All the team can do, however, is go out and make a name for themselves. If it takes another positive postseason showing to get that, well, that's something every Pacer fan would take, assuming of course they ever play these games.