Happy Opening Night, Pacers fans!!!
The Fieldhouse will be rockin’ tonight as the Pacers make their first game appearance for local fans after not playing any practice games at home. Victor Oladipo will lead the charge in game one of 82 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizz beat the Pacers in preseason in a game that went into OT but will not resemble the opener in any way. For starters (literally), Mike Conley and Marc Gasol did not play for the Grizz, while Nate McMillan rested the entire starting lineup for the Pacers.
Carmel native, Jaren Jackson Jr. led all scorers in the practice game and will make his regular season NBA debut on Wednesday. Even more familiar to local fans will be the Grizz backcourt rotation with Mike Conley back in the starting spot after missing 70 games last season. Conley won three state titles on the Fieldhouse floor for Lawrence North before moving onto the NBA after a quick stop at Ohio State.
Conley’s backup will be Butler legend, Shelvin Mack. Starting his eight season on his sixth team, Mack has carved out a nice playing career in the NBA. He was offered no minutes when he signed with Memphis but has earned the backup job to begin the season.
Big man Marc Gasol will present the biggest issue for the Pacers and force Myles Turner to start earning that contract extension right out of the gate. The Pacers beat Memphis in both meetings last season, although the Grizz were a shell of themselves in the second game without Conley, Gasol and Tyreke Evans.
Oh, yeah. Tyreke Evans may very well be the difference in this matchup. In the Pacers 116-113 win at Memphis last year, Gasol had 35 points and 13 rebounds while Evans had 18 points and 9 assists off the bench. With Evans coming off the bench for the Pacers, the reserve unit should tip in the Paces favor.
While there are plenty of familiar faces on the visiting Grizz roster, it will be far more exciting to see the Pacers get the Fieldhouse cookin’ for the first time this season!
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