The two games tip off a 10-game stretch that would be a struggle regardless of how healthy the Pacers were or even if they had been playing at a high level. Unfortunately, good health and high-level play have been sparse for the Pacers.
So, with that in mind, brace yourself for the next stretch of the schedule which hopefully will provide some nice surprises along they way and a chance for the current Pacers to exceed the diminished expectations. If not, the Pacers will be well on their way to a soft tank whether they want to or not.
Jan. 4 @ Knicks - One of the ‘easiest’ of the next 10 games at MSG. The Knicks have been rolling through COVID and injury issues like the Pacers with both teams sporting a loaded injury report.
Jan. 5 vs. Nets - The Nets remain second in the East despite some recent struggles. But they expect to get a boost from Kyrie Irving on the heels of a loss to Memphis in which Steve Nash benched his starters and then called the effort “embarrassing” after the game. Yikes.
Jan. 9 vs. Jazz - One of the Paces best wins this season was over the Jazz in Utah. Earning the sweep will be a tough task considering the Jazz are playing at a high level of late and remain in race for the top spot in the West.
Jan. 10 @Celtics and Jan. 12 vs. Celtics - A home and home with Boston sets up a scenario for a split between the teams. At this point, the Pacers should be in better shape with regard to COVID absences, but other key players could be down by then at the rate the positives are popping up.
Jan. 14 vs. Suns - Just another team battling for the top team in the West. Also, the first of two games against the Suns over eight days. Also, the last game before a West Coast roadie.
Jan. 17 @ Clippers - The MLK Day matinee tips of the Pacers road trip. Clippers are battling to hang onto playoff positioning while playing without both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George of late.
Jan. 19 @ Lakers - The Lakers have been all over the place of late staying around .500 in the process. Aside from certain matchup concerns, two nights in Los Angeles prior to the tip is never a good thing for the road team.
Jan. 20 @ Warriors - Nothing like a back-to-back against the top team in the West.
Jan. 22 @ Suns - The 10-game gauntlet ends with the rematch agaisnt the Suns.
Whew, I’m exhausted.
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