After enduring a season that seemed over before it started, the Indiana Pacers are back to begin what they hope will be a promising 2015-16 NBA season.
Just how promising remains to be seen and with so many changes in the mix, the intrigue will begin flowing from the opening tip. Paul George will always be the top story and if he can remain healthy and productive this season should be mighty fun. With an offense expected to pick up the pace and create more scoring opportunities, things should be exciting when the team has it rolling.
Frank Vogel, for one, is excited about what lies ahead for the Pacers.
"So far these guys seem to be really getting along, recreating that culture that has been a strength of ours the last couple of year," Vogel said. "I feel like with the firepower we have, particularly with with the spread lineup and what that can be."
Of course, with all of the changes there are multiple variables that can send things the wrong way. The health of Monta Ellis and Paul George will always be critical. Making shots is another thing this team can't take for granted. They've been streaky at best in the preseason which seems to be the M.O. for all of their scoring threats. The key is finding the one or two guys each night who are dialed in to keep the clanks from spreading like the flu.
Speaking of injuries, the Pacers begin in relative good health. Rookie Myles Turner turned his ankle on Monday and is questionable for the opener, as is Glenn Robinson III with a sore shoulder. Turner will likely remain on a minutes restriction regardless of his ankle as the team continues monitoring his knee. I maintain, the team is simply being smart with the 19-year-old as his big body, which may not be done growing, adjust to a man-sized workload in the NBA. Managing those early NBA miles is a prudent path to take for the long run.
Emmis Communications is adding a new FM frequency to broadcast Pacers games this year. Mark Boyle and Slick Leonard (at home) can still be heard on 1070AM The Fan but they will also come in clearly on 93.5FM. The Fan will still broadcast sports radio shows on 107.5FM and the Nov 8 game against Cleveland will be heard on 107.5FM. Every other game will broadcast on 93.5FM and 1070 AM.
NBA Opening Night
The NBA officially tipped of on Tuesday with three games including two with Eastern Conference matchups of note. In Chicago, the Bulls held on to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-95. Pau Gasol smothered all of LBJ's chicken when James drove the lane for a shot to tie the game with mere seconds remaining. The Cavs never did get a shot up to the rim on their final possession. Elsewhere, the Pistons ruined the Hawks home opener, leading most of the way to win 106-94. In the Yay, the Warriors picked up their championship rings then looked like champs, running past the severely short-handed Pelicans, 111-99.