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Reunion with Frank Vogel to highlight Pacers 2016 preseason schedule

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The NBA is set to release the regular season schedule tonight, but here's an early look at how Indiana's preseason schedule is shaking out.

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NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers will soon release their 2016 preseason schedule, which serves as a reminder that Paul George, who is currently representing the United States as a member of Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, will in a few short months be exchanging the red, white, and blue for Blue & Gold.

Thus far, the Pacers are scheduled for five exhibition games, beginning on Oct. 6 versus the Chicago Bulls and ending on Oct. 19 on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks. While a few more games could still be added, the reduced slate is in keeping with what seems to be a developing league-wide trend to trim some of the fat from superfluous eight-game schedules.

If Indiana does end up playing the NBA-maximum of eight exhibitions, expect the remaining three games to be played against either the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, New York KnicksPhiladelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans, or Dallas Mavericks as they, too, have yet to officially release their 2016 preseason schedules.

The 2016 slate is already loaded with match-ups against the Central Division, including a home-and-home with the Chicago Bulls on October 6 and October 8 as well as two meetings with the Milwaukee Bucks on October 12 and 19, the former of which will likely end up taking place at a locale in Indiana other than Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Last preseason, the Pacers made the trek up to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, also known as the home of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, to face the Charlotte Hornets.The Blue & Gold have also taken their show on the road to Ball State University and Notre Dame in preseasons past.

More notably, the shortened schedule includes a road game against former head coach Frank Vogel's new team, the Orlando Magic. The Orlando Pro Summer League already provided Vogel the opportunity to catch-up with his former employer over lunch; however, actually seeing him coach against many of his former players should make Nate McMillan's whirlwind move one chair over feel more real than when Larry Bird initially announced he would be searching for a new voice at the end of the season. Since Vogel will be on the opposing sideline, Paul George's promised wink following a made basket may come a bit earlier than expected.

"...Look forward to the wink the first basket I make while you're coaching against me," the two-way star captioned a photo thanking Vogel on Instagram.

While preseason games are notoriously sloppy, getting an early glimpse at McMillan's rotations as well as his plans to compensate for the team's lack of shooting and potentially leaky defense with speed should provide some nuance and meaning to the otherwise generally meaningless.

What is currently known of the exhibition schedule, including at least one game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, is as follows:

  • Thursday Oct. 6 vs. Chicago Bulls, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 8:00p.m.
  • Saturday Oct. 8 @ Chicago Bulls, United Center, 8:00p.m.
  • Wednesday Oct. 12 vs. Milwaukee Bucks, (site TBA), 8:00p.m.
  • Friday Oct. 14 @ Orlando Magic, Amway Center, 7:00p.m.
  • Wednesday Oct. 19 @ Milwaukee Bucks, BMO Harris Bradley Center, 8:00p.m.

Whether the Pacers and Paul George, who is one of only four players on Team USA never to have played on Christmas, will be making an appearance on the league's most marquee game day is something worth keeping an eye on tonight when the NBA releases the regular season master schedule. The Blue & Gold have not been in action on December 25 since the 2004-05 season when they narrowly lost to the Detroit Pistons, 98-93.