Pacers’ 2017 preseason schedule explained

The Pacers’ preseason schedule was planned to their liking. The NBA allows teams to manage their own schedule during exhibition play, and this is what the Pacers decided to do.

Week of practice.

Week of games.

Week of practice.

Then, opening night on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

The NBA preseason is more condensed because the league moved up the regular season by a week. Instead of the season opening a few days before Halloween, NBA Opening Night is Oct. 17 this year, featuring Boston at Cleveland and Houston at Golden State — airing in primetime on TNT.

“We always want to try to get preseason games over and give ourselves some time after that last game, about a week before games, in case we do have injuries,” coach Nate McMillan explained. “It’s almost like we’ll have another training camp before going into opening night. The schedule was set like that for a reason.”

(Glenn Robinson III suffered a severe ankle sprain and is expected to be sidelined for two months.)

So, Indiana settled with four exhibition games over a seven-day stretch, and just one at home. They played six, seven, and seven preseason games, respectively, over the last three years.

This year, Garth Brooks invaded Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the last week (and WWE took over on Monday). Brooks sold out five shows and I’ve yet to read a bad review, even from casual fans.

[Pacers Last Week: Oct. 9 — 2-0 start to preseason, more minutes for Wilkins, Reggie in Indy, Oladipo releases album]

So, after stops in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Detroit, the new-look Pacers and their clean, redesigned Nike uniforms make their Indy debut Tuesday night against Maccabi Haifa, the 2016-17 Israeli Super League runner-up.

Maccabi Haifa played at Utah on Oct. 4 and will play at Portland on Friday. Joining their roster for this United States tour is former NBA forward Josh Smith, who was out of the league last season.

The matchup is special for first-round pick T.J. Leaf, who was born in Israel and lived there for the first few years of his life while his father, Brad, played professionally.

T.J. Leaf at his first NBA media day.

Brad is from Indianapolis, played at the University of Evansville, and was also drafted by the Pacers; That was in 1982 with the 146th pick, though he was cut soon after.

“I know probably have the people on the team so it’s going to be a fun game just playing against them,” T.J. Leaf said. “I’m looking forward to it, and I definitely want to get back.”

Leaf, 20, was last in Israel back in 2015 and hopes to visit again soon.

As for the Pacers, much of training camp is for the players to become familiar with one another. Camp included the league maximum of 20 players, which must be trimmed to 15 (not including Edmond Sumner and Alex Poythress who are both on two-way contracts) by Oct. 16.

“Four games is tough,” Pacers President Kevin Pritchard said. “I think early on, we might not be the team that we are in December and in January. For us it’s continual improvement. We’ve put all of our resources into the culture of development. … Every single day, every person in this building is trying to develop.”

Hence why they brought 20 players to camp. It’s about growth, development, and the future.

As for bringing in a team from overseas, it’s something that owner Herb Simon wanted to do and Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Peter Dinwiddie acted on.

“It kind of collaborates with what we do with our summer league,” Pritchard said. “We try to bring in a coach from overseas so we can learn. They are a good team, there’s no doubt about that. They’ll be a tough test for us in that fourth game, but we like that. … Basketball is worldwide now so for us it’s a great thing.”

For Summer League this past July, Australian coach Andrew Gaze assisted Popeye Jones. In 2015, it was Fotis Katsikaris, the respected Greek National Team coach.

Tuesday’s home exhibition game will also be a practice run of sorts for Jerry Baker, the Pacers’ new public address announcer. Baker replaces Michael Grady, who took a job with YES Network in New York as the Brooklyn Nets’ courtside reporter and was the voice heard at The Fieldhouse since the 2010-11 season.

Baker was the first radio voice of the franchise back in 1976.

LISTEN: Exit interview with Michael Grady

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL