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Pacers release 2021-22 NBA schedule

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Indiana heads into the upcoming regular season with a full 82-game slate, beginning on October 20 at Charlotte.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The whirlwind summer of the NBA continues as barely days after the conclusion of the Las Vegas Summer League, the league is in full swing releasing the 2021-22 NBA schedule. This will mark a return to an October-April regular season and an 82-game schedule after the last two seasons were affected by COVID-19.

Beyond finding out that the Indiana Pacers will still play the same amount of home games as road games (41 each!), there’s plenty to dive into for Indiana’s upcoming season.

The Pacers will open things up with a pair of road games, starting with the Charlotte Hornets on October 20. Indiana’s home opener will come on the second night of a back-to-back, hosting the Miami Heat on October 23.

Indiana’s first West Coast trip will come at the beginning of November, starting on the 5th and concluding on the 11th with games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, and Utah Jazz (on a back-to-back). It will be followed by Indiana’s lone home game in eight total, facing the Philadelphia 76ers before a trio of road games against the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, and Hornets.

The longest home stand of the season will take place in December with six straight to open the month as part of 10 of 12 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse including games against the Los Angeles Lakers (November 24), Atlanta Hawks (December 1), New York Knicks (December 8), and Dallas Mavericks (December 10).

The second trip to the Pacific Time zone will take place from January 17 through the 24th in a brutal five game stretch where they’ll face the Los Angeles Clippers, Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and New Orleans Pelicans in such an order.

One of the interesting twists in last season’s schedule was a two-game series against a team in one location, as opposed to the traditional home-away series. That will happen just once for the Pacers this season, playing the Orlando Magic on February 28 and March 2, though they’ll only be making one trip to Los Angeles and the Staples Center in facing the Clippers and Lakers in January. Home-away series a bit more frequent for the Pacers, including away/home vs. the Boston Celtics on January 10 & 12 and and a late season home/away facing the 76ers on April 5 & 9th.

As far as scheduling advantages or disadvantages, the Pacers will face 14 back-to-backs this season, right around the league average and down from 17 in last year’s heavily compacted and shortened season. According to Positive Residual, the Pacers will come out ahead in advantage games, playing 14 games against less-rested teams while being the less-rested team on just 11 occasions.

Last year’s season wasn’t short on frustrations, but in failing to make the playoffs, the thin line the Pacers are forced to walk in terms of national exposure has swung against them, leading to just a single TNT/ESPN/ABC game, the December 21st road game against Miami. In total, the Pacers have just five nationally televised games, with vs. Miami (October 23), vs. New Orleans (November 20), at Cleveland (January 2), and at New York (January 4) all airing on NBA TV. That, of course, it subject to change, as games flex in and out, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge.

At the same time, the Pacers also announced their 2021 preseason schedule, featuring four games, starting at New York on October 5. After games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies, they’ll wrap up the exhibition section on October 15 against Cleveland before the start of the regular season five days later.