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Pacers opening night: Will basketball gods shine kindly on the Pacers this year?
The Pacers are due and/or over due for a little love from a higher power to get this season off to a good start.
Happy Pacers opening night!
Waking the echoes with a little preview for the Pacers on opening night. Feel free to share your thought before, during and after the game on your Pacers regular season first impressions.
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
When: Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Bennedict Mathurin, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Wizards: Tyus Jones, Jordan Poole, Bilal Coulibaly, Kyle Kuzma, Daniel Gafford
Wizards: Johnny Davis (elbow) - out, Anthony Gill (hamstring) - out, Landry Shamet (toe fracture) - out
Rick Carlisle has repeatedly warned anyone who will listen that their season opener against the Wizards will be a strong test. While others may consider the Wizards one of the worst teams at the start of the NBA regular season, Carlisle sees plenty of guys who can get hot and light up the Pacers on a given night — even opening night.
Kyle Kuzma was a 20-point per game scorer last season and averaged over 22 points per game against the Pacers. His success against the Blue and Gold last year was a reason to think the Pacers may have made a run at filling heir PF spot with Kuz this past summer. Instead the front office was more shrewd, going younger and cheaper with Obi Toppin.
Still, Kuzma with Daniel Gafford gives the Wiz and active front court that can run and attack the rim, an area the Pacers struggled with defensively in the preseason. Add to the bigs a dynamic backcourt with Tyus Jones and Jordan Poole and there are more than enough concerns for a Pacers team trying to improve defensively.
Poole is capable of going off for big numbers any night, all you have to do is ask him. He will be plenty of fun to watch this year without having to bow down to the Golden State vets.
But while Poole is the most dangerous option, Ty Jones may be the most critical to any actual wins. His play as a reserve in Memphis throughout last season’s tumultuous year which saw him start 22 games, was impressive. It is hard to believe Jones is starting his ninth season, but at just 26 he is heading into his prime years with his ‘know how’ meter continuing to rise.
Fortunately, the Pacers have plenty of weapons to counter the Wiz and a deeper rotation to continually attack with their top 9 or 10 players. Just assuming on opening night that TJ McConnell will be in the mix and the rotation will go 10 deep.
Circling back to Rick Carlisle’s radio interview with Kevin Bown and Andy Sweeney which I mentioned in my post on Ben Sheppard, the Pacers coach
"He’s relishing an opportunity to play with Tyrese” Carlisle said about Obi Toppin. “He's another guy that since coming here has just shown tremendous overall gratitude to the basketball gods. You know, much the same way as Aaron Nesmith has, too.
“We need to take this group from here to higher levels of competitive responsibility and we need to win some more games”
Will this be the year the basketball gods shine on the Pacers? Good health. Growth from young players. Strong impact from veteran role players.
Did I mention good health?
Initial answers will be available starting at 7PM from Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
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