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NBA Releases 09-10 Schedule, Pacers Get Favorable Early Opponents

If you've been dying with anticipation to watch the blue and gold shine through in beautiful HD on a nationally televised broadcast, well you're finally luck. The Indiana Pacers were granted (not counting two appearances on NBATV) one national game in the 2009-10 NBA regular season schedule that was officially released Tuesday.

But you'll have to do a little waiting for it to get here. In fact, you could just hibernate all Winter and not miss a beat.

The Pacers will finally be shown to the world with an appearance on ESPN on April 14. The final game of the regular season at the Washington Wizards made the cut, and with the Pacers guaranteed potentially hopefully making a playoff push, the game may actually hold some real meaning for playoff position. For more highlights of the Pacers schedule check after the jump.

Unfortunately, not even college star and first-round draft pick Tyler Hansbrough could get the Pacers on more than one national television game next season. Although the Pacers also received "national" airtime with NBATV games at Golden State (Nov. 30) and at home against Utah (March 26).

There is some really good news for the team at the start of the season, however. Unlike last year's brutal opening schedule when the Pacers played the Celtics and Cavs a combined 46 straight times in November (exaggeration? hardly), this year opens with a gentler and kinder hug from the officials at the NBA office.

Ten of the first 15 opponents were non-playoff teams in 08-09. Nine of those 15 games will even be played in the comfy home of Conseco Fieldhouse. Indiana also finishes the season with 10 of its last 14 games at home. Of course, the team pays the price in a road-heavy December and February, but it sure is nice letting the team find its wings at home early and then getting a chance for a late run with a home stand at the finish line. It's the kind of schedule that most teams dream can only dream of.

Here are some other highlights:

Oct. 28 -- Opening Night, at Atlanta, 7 p.m. -- Solomon Jones returns to face his old team during the season-opening game.

Oct. 30 -- Home Opening Night, vs. Miami, 8 p.m. -- Last year's home opener beat down of the Celtics was the highlight of the 08-09 season. We'll get a chance to see the team's new defensive intensity as we watch what Dahntay Jones can do with Dwyane Wade.

Nov. 4 -- Indiana at New York, 7 p.m. -- This one is based on the fact that Jamaal Tinsley could be a Knick next season, meaning this would be a big game for the point guard to show up his old team. Not looking forward to that.

Nov. 14 -- Boston at Indiana, 7 p.m. -- The return of the Celtics.

Nov. 20 -- Cleveland at Indiana, 7 p.m. -- The return of the Cavs. Let's see them try to re-create the Granger/LeBron finish from last year. Percentage that Mike Brown pulls an Artest and charges into the stands if Joey Crawford's team is reffing that game again? I'll take more than 100 percent.

Dec. 19 -- Indiana at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m. -- The Spurs are already earning the pre-preseason NBA champs honor so it will be good to see how the Pacers stack up against the NBA's elite squad.

Jan. 9 -- Indiana at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m. -- Earl Watson visits the team that benched him last season.

Jan. 27 -- L.A. Lakers at Indiana, 7 p.m. -- Remind me to not sell my tickets to this contest like I did last year. Big mistake. Oh, and we get to welcome Ron Artest back in yet another uniform.

Feb. 2 -- Toronto at Indiana, 7 p.m. -- A hearty welcome back to Rasho and Jarret Jack.

April 14 -- Indiana at Washington, 8 p.m. -- We're on ESPN! We're on ESPN!

So there are just very quick highlights after looking at the schedule for roughly 3-5 minutes. For a national highlight list, check out's "Ten Games to Watch" here.

Please share what games you can't wait to see or how you think the schedule shapes the Pacers 09-10 campaign.