The NBA today released its scrimmage schedule for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, a slate heavy on inter-conference competition. Beginning on July 23, two weeks after teams are set to arrive in Orlando, the Oladipo-less Pacers will face the Portland Trail Blazers followed by the Dallas Mavericks (July 26) and San Antonio Spurs (July 28).
- Thursday, July 23 vs. Portland Trail Blazers, HP, 3:30 PM
- Sunday, July 26 vs. Dallas Mavericks, HP, 4:00 PM
- Tuesday, July 28 vs. San Antonio Spurs, HP, 4:00 PM
Originally, likely in an attempt to avoid cross-contamination between hotels before the official restart, early indicators were that teams would be playing three scrimmages against other teams staying at their same resort. However, given that the Pacers are scheduled to play against the Mavericks and Spurs, both of whom are lodging at the Yacht Club, it appears as though that line of thinking was at some point scrapped in favor of playing against opponents from the opposite conference. Or, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski yesterday reported, unlikely first-round opponents.
For the Pacers, who will be without Victor Oladipo and Jeremy Lamb, the West-heavy slate will give their talent-depleted roster a chance to shake off the rust against both sides of the health-spectrum; first, going up against a Portland team which is expected to add back Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins before later wrapping things up against the Spurs, sans LaMarcus Aldridge. In the absence of Trevor Ariza, the Blazers will likely have to rely more on Carmelo Anthony at the wing, which in effect could open up more playing time for JaKarr Sampson in traditional lineups — especially since the Pacers aren’t expected to push their regular rotation to the max in the seeding games, let alone in a scrimmage.
Overall, while playing three additional non-games ahead of the 8-game seeding schedule seems somewhat superfluous for a team that is supposedly trying to just get out of this whole ordeal unscathed, the exhibition slate should at least provide Nate McMillan with an opportunity to do what he’s been doing all season: Sort out a rotation in the absence of key players.