Pacers 2017-18 schedule released; Paul George returns on Dec. 13

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The Pacers tip off the 2017-18 regular season at home against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, Oct. 18, one day after the league’s opening night. And they’ll be wearing their new uniforms.

The NBA released the schedule Monday night and it calls for the Pacers to have 14 back-to backs, play once on national television, and to host Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Indiana will play six of its final eight games on the road, including a four-game road trip out west.

Boston and Cleveland get the regular season started at 8:00 pm ET on Tuesday, Oct. 17 – with Houston at Golden State to follow.

The first game most Pacers fans searched for was Oklahoma City, to see former star Paul George along with last season’s MVP Russell Westbrook. Both will occur during the first third of the season:

Oct. 25 in Oklahoma City, and Dec. 13 (I see what you did there, NBA schedule-makers) in Indy.

Fans eager to see Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and the rest of the Golden State Warriors may be disappointed in how the schedule lined up. They’ll play in Oakland on March 27th to start the road trip, then play host them to Bankers Life Fieldhouse during the final week of the regular season: Thursday, April 5.

By then, the Warriors may have already clinched the number one overall seed and/or key players may be sitting out due to injury.

The Pacers’ roster has been gutted since April. Kevin Pritchard was promoted to president of basketball operations and immediately got to work on the draft. And then he was tasked with trading George, which he did to Oklahoma City just a few hours before the start of free agency.

Just six players are back from last year’s team that was swept in the first round of the playoffs by Cleveland.

Here’s my annual breakdown of the Pacers schedule:

Back-to-Backs: 14

After having 17 sets of back-to-back games in each of the last three season, the Pacers have just 14 this upcoming season. That’s just below the league average of 14.4 (from 16.3 last season).

Player health and rest is a top priority for the league and so for the first time in league history, no teams will play four games in four nights. Starting the season a week earlier also helps in cutting back the amount of back-to-backs.

Notable Home Games:

  • Oct. 18 — Opening night
  • Oct. 29 — San Antonio
  • Oct. 31 — George Hill and Zach Randolph, Sacramento
  • Nov. 12 — Eric Gordon, Chris Paul, James Harden, Houston
  • Nov. 24, Mar. 15 — C.J. Miles, Toronto
  • Nov. 25, Dec. 18 — Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward, Boston
  • Nov. 27 — Frank Vogel, Orlando
  • Dec. 8, Jan. 12 — LeBron and Co., Cleveland
  • Dec. 13 — Paul George and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
  • Dec. 27 — Yogi Ferrell, Dallas
  • Dec. 31 — Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota
  • Feb. 3 — The Process, Philadelphia
  • Mar. 19 — Lonzo Ball, Lakers
  • Apr. 5 — Golden State Warriors

Holiday Games: Nope

While they are not featured on Christmas Day, they do play the night after Thanksgiving. Friday, Nov. 24 against C.J. Miles and the Toronto Raptors.

Their New Year’s Eve matinee is the following month — Dec. 31 against Jeff Teague and the Minnesota Timberwolves at 5:00 pm.

They do not play on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this season. It’s just their third time over the last eight years not playing on MLK Jr. Day.

National TV: 3

Just three appearances, including two on NBA TV.

Otherwise, Paul George’s anticipated return to Indy on Dec. 13 will be the only Pacers game seen by a national audience — on ESPN. That’s what happens when there are low expectations, you trade away a perennial All-Star and the roster is mostly unknown.

ZERO on TNT

ONCE on ESPN
Dec. 13 v Oklahoma City.

TWICE on NBA TV
Nov. 20 at Orlando, Jan. 8 v Milwaukee.

Previous Years:

2016-17: 17
2015-16: 12
2014-15: 8

New Addition:

In an effort to help fans follow the league, the NBA will label each week*, 1 to 26.

*Each week runs Monday through Sunday.

Road Trips: 3

Two of four games each, and one mega five-game roadie.

5: Jan. 14 – Jan. 21: Phoenix, Utah, Portland, Los Angeles (Lakers), San Antonio.
4: Feb. 26 – Mar. 4: Dallas, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Washington
4: Mar. 27 – Apr. 3: Golden State, Sacramento, Los Angeles (Clippers), Denver

Homestands: 6

December is favorable to the Pacers. Opposite from last year, they play 10 of their 15 games at home. That includes six straight games.

Dec. 4 – Dec. 15: New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Oklahoma City, Detroit

The end of January is also kind to the Pacers with three in a row, and six of eight. The two road games are quick flights to Cleveland and Charlotte.

Jan. 24 – Feb. 5: Phoenix, at Cleveland, Orlando, Charlotte, Memphis, at Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington.

And, they have four stretches with three consecutive games at home.

Nov. 24 – Nov. 27: Toronto, Boston, Orlando
Jan. 27 – Jan 31: Orlando, Charlotte, Memphis
Mar. 5 – Mar. 9: Milwaukee, Utah, Atlanta
Mar. 19 – Mar. 25: Los Angeles (Lakers), Los Angeles (Clippers), Miami

Games by the Day:

Sunday: 15
Monday: 11
Tuesday: 8
Wednesday: 18
Thursday: 4
Friday: 19
Saturday: 7

Now you know to schedule events Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Close to the Regular Season:

This won’t be easy.

13 of their final 22 games are on the road. Even worse, six of their final eight — which follows a three-game homestand — are away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Twice against Golden State, which could work out nicely, depending on the circumstances.

Their last two games are against Charlotte, with the regular-season finale in Indy on Tue., April 10th.

Full Schedule:

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