Much like the NFL, the NBA schedule release has becoming something of an event. Well, not on the same magnitude, but with NBA TV specials and all, it's hard to not get excited when the league's marquee matchups take place. In recent years, the Indiana Pacers' part in the schedule release has been more "any national games?" rather than expecting prime viewing spots. But with Indiana primed as one of the Eastern Conference's elite after an Eastern Conference Finals run this past spring, the question is more "how may national games?"
While Indiana didn't land national spots on NBA Tip-Off or Christmas Day, they will be a part of the NBA's opening night, actually becoming the first team to open up the regular season, playing at home against Victor Oladipo and the Orlando Magic. Indiana will also close out Martin Luther King, Jr. Day's set of games at Golden State on TNT.
So check out the full schedule, and mark your calendar for the season's best games. There isn't a team the Pacers shouldn't be expected to beat on any given night, making this season even more exciting as the Pacers aim to repeat as Central Division Champions as they need to put themselves in the best position possible when next spring rolls around. The home games will be especially exciting when looking at when the biggest stars make their trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
- Orlando Magic, October 29 (opening night)
- Chicago Bulls, November 6
- Miami Heat, December 10
- Charlotte Bobcats, December 13
- Houston Rockets, December 20
- Brooklyn Nets, December 28
- New York Knicks, January 16
- Los Angeles Clippers, January 18
- Brooklyn Nets, February 1
- Orlando Magic, February 3
- Los Angeles Lakers, February 25
- Golden State Warriors, March 4
- Chicago Bulls, March 21
- Miami Heat, March 26
- San Antonio Spurs, March 31
- Oklahoma City Thunder, April 13
Looking further into the schedule, Indiana will make a pair of Western coast trips, one to open December (including the Clippers, Thunder, and Spurs), the other to close January. They'll tip off four games against the Miami Heat, which includes two home games and two road games, maximizing the teams' bad blood as the Pacers aim to dethrone the champions for the third straight year. Indiana has a pair of December games against the Heat, taking place on the 10th and 18th, with the home game on March 26th, and another trip to Miami on April 11th.
They'll play four games as well against the potential powerhouse Nets, as well as the four division matchups against the Bulls. Chicago and Indiana will play November 6 & 16 and March 21 & 24, a pair of close games which will also surely have their own bad blood after the first game in each pair. The Pacers will play the Nets in back-to-back games on December 23 & 28. The Pacers and Knicks will tip-off three times throughout the season, two games at Madison Square Garden.
What about the national TV schedule? Indiana has a right to feel a little jilted after their run last year when it comes to the national schedule. Besides seven NBA TV games, Indiana roped in no prime Sunday afternoon games on ABC and just two TNT games. Meanwhile, the Lakers, Bulls, Heat, and Knicks each have five games (with Miami and New York getting six) on ABC, which tips off on Christmas Day. It's rather annoying, but the Pacers are seeing what market size truly means and quality of play doesn't matter as much. The two TNT games will be the lone Knicks matchup on January 16 and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day game in Golden State on January 20.
Indiana will be a regular fixture on ESPN, however, getting eight spots on the network. If you aren't able to enjoy Fox Sports Indiana's take throughout the season or get down to the Fieldhouse, these will be valuable games to take in. Both of Indiana's games against the Houston Rockets will be on ESPN, December 20 and March 7, setting up a prime big man matchup between Roy Hibbert and Dwight Howard. The Pacers will also battle with the Heat twice on ESPN, once on December 18 and again March 26.
As well, the other two Knicks matchups will be in prime view, November 20 and March 19, both games in New York. The other two matchups will include the opening game between Indiana and Chicago on November 6 as well as a road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 19. That game is of particular note considering a Pacers/Wolves game just a few years ago may not have even had television cameras in the stadium, now the two will be on national TV. It's also worth noting Kevin Love's words for the Pacers during the 2011-12 season, making it a little interesting if he continues to show distaste for the blue and gold.
So, the schedule is out! Preseason games are just two months away! NBA basketball is going to be here before we know it. Any opinions on the schedule? Any rough or easy stretches you see? Able to decipher any early win prediction totals? How do you feel about the national schedule? Share your thoughts and opinions on the schedule!