Having previously known about the preseason schedule, the NBA followed up with the release of the Indiana Pacers' regular season schedule. The 2016-17 season will mark the 50th for the Pacers and it will begin at home on October 26th as they face the Dallas Mavericks, but will quickly turn road heavy as five of the next eight will on the road. After that, Indiana will play eight of nine at home, including a number of high profile games.
The Pacers will host the Orlando Magic on November 14 as Frank Vogel will return for his first game as an opposing head coach. Other home games include the Cleveland Cavaliers (Nov. 16), Golden State Warriors (Nov. 21), and Los Angeles Clippers (Nov. 27). After that, the Pacers will embark on their first Western road trip of the season, a five game stint against Portland, the Clippers, Golden State, Phoenix, and Dallas.
The five game trip to start December will be the longest of the season for the Pacers, only matched by a five game to start March, when they travel to Miami, San Antonio, Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte in that order. On the flip side, the home heavy stretch in November (eight of nine) is the longest time the Pacers will be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with a seven of nine stretch coming in February when they face the Cavaliers twice (home, Feb. 8 and away, Feb. 15) and San Antonio (Feb. 13).
Traditionally, the Pacers head out West at least twice, but due to their overseas ventures against the Denver Nuggets in London, will see their second West Coast swing just a three game trip, but a grueling three games in four night stretch that see them travel from Sacramento (Jan. 18) to Los Angeles (facing the Lakers on Jan. 20) to Utah (Jan. 21) on the second night of a back to back to face George Hill and the Jazz for the first time.
The Pacers will play 16 back-to-backs this upcoming season with no more than four in a single month (December and March). Nine back-to-backs will played at home, hopefully giving Indiana a better chance at pulling out some wins in what has been a long-standing issue for Indiana in recent years. Two of those back-to-backs in particular will draw attention as they feature the Warriors.
As if to make up for a potential blessing in facing a stacked Warriors team while they figure out how to most efficiently implement Kevin Durant into their lineup at the beginning of the season, Indiana will have to play both games against Golden State on the second night of a back-to-back. Previous night road games against the Thunder and Clippers don't make the task any easier, of course, but getting them out of the way early should only allow Indiana to focus as the season progresses.
With or without Golden State, Indiana will still have to contend with the Cleveland Cavaliers for four games, including home games on November 16 and February 8, with road games coming later on February 15 and April 2. The always contentious meetings between Indiana and the new-look Chicago Bulls will take place at Bankers Life on November 5 and December 30 and the United Center in Chicago on October 29 and December 26.
The close proximity of the meetings will only make the rematches in Indianapolis that much more intense, but the teams won't face off at all in the 2017 portion of the regular season schedule. On the other hand, Indiana won't meet the Toronto Raptors until the 2017 portion of the schedule, with the teams first squaring off on March 19 in Toronto and again on March 31 before wrapping up the season series in Indianapolis on April 2.
Once again, the Pacers will be sidelined from Christmas Day action, as the league will play it safe on their marquee day with familiar matchups like the Cavs vs. Warrior, familiar teams like the Knicks, Lakers, and Celtics, and familiar players like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade. The upstart Minnesota Timberwolves play party crashers in an showcase of the league's elite that could prove entirely underwhelming.
Indiana will have a handful of chances to see Primetime Paul George with the Pacers scheduled for seven ESPN games and four TNT games:
- December 14 at Miami Heat
- January 20 at Los Angeles Lakers
- February 10 at Washington Wizards
- February 15 at Cleveland Cavaliers
- March 8 vs. Detroit Pistons
- March 31 at Toronto Raptors
- April 12 vs. Atlanta Hawks
- December 22 vs. Boston Celtics
- January 23 vs. New York Knicks
- February 13 vs. San Antonio Spurs
- March 6 at Charlotte Hornets