The NBA season is upon us and every week will present a challenge for the Pacers this year, so let's take a look at what lies ahead on the schedule for week one.
Wednesday, Oct. 29th: Philadelphia 76ers @ Pacers, 7:00 p.m.
If you think the Pacers are depleted, let me present to you the 2014-15 Philadelphia 76ers. Second-year star point guard Michael Carter-Williams was one of the lone bright spots for a squad that finished last season 19-63. Problem is MCW is not slated to return to practice till next week due to a shoulder injury that required surgery in May. Philadelphia will not be able to lean on forward Thaddeus Young, who ended his seven year stint with the 76ers with a career average of just shy of 14 points per game and almost six rebounds a contest. Entering the fold for Philly is 6'11" tower Nerlens Noel, who will mark his first action in an NBA regular season game on Wednesday after sitting out the 2013-14 season with a knee injury. Noel expects to make a big splash in his first active season and with a depleted forward/center position for the Pacers, may do just that in his first game.
In a season where wins will come at a premium for Indiana, the Pacers better get them while they can.
Friday, Oct. 31st: Memphis Grizzlies @ Pacers, 7:00 p.m.
"Grit 'n Grind" makes a tour stop at Banker's Life and will test the Pacers early in the season. What could have been a marquee match-up loses some steam without a David West-Zach Randolph battle. The Grizzlies fell just one game short of knocking-off eventual champions San Antonio in the first round of the 2014 Western Conference Playoffs. Returning for Memphis is, well, pretty much everyone. Of a possible 410 starts in 2013-14, the Grizzlies return 393 of those starts. The water is deep and the Pacers are going to need a bigger boat.
Saturday, Nov. 1st: Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m.
After last year's heated meeting in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, it sure would be fun to experience that bad blood one more time. Unfortunately, I'm not sure there's much hostility between Rodney Stuckey and Kent Bazemore. The Pacers' kryptonite, aka Jeff Teague, will surely tee-up one of his best games for his hometown team. The match-up to watch will be Roy Hibbert and oft-injured, star Al Horford, who missed the postseason series last year between these two teams with a tear of his right pectoral muscle. Although unusual to most recent Pacers fans, nary a game this season will be dubbed a good-chance for victory with a depleted Indiana squad.
Buckle up, Pacers fans, it's going to be a long season, but believe me, the light at the end of the tunnel is awful bright.