Well, it’s here: the 2011-2012 NBA Schedule. The post-lockout, condensed, 66-game season.
It was announced earlier that each team would have to play at least one back-to-back-to-back during the shortened season, and I thought the Pacers would be one of the teams that played more than one. I was right.
That said, the schedule makers have smiled down on the Pacers this season, at last…kind of. The full schedule for the Pacers can be found here.
The Pacers begin with a couple of preseason games against the team that ousted them from the playoffs last season, the Chicago Bulls. Even though it’s the preseason, I think the Pacers will be out to make a statement.
The real season begins at home (finally!) against the Detroit Pistons. These are both vastly different teams to the ones that were involved in the brawl, but it’s still going to be a good rivalry. Hopefully, the Pacers can get off to strong start because of the player-held practices they had during the lockout. The next four games are @Toronto, Cleveland, @Detroit and @New Jersey, offering the Pacers a real chance to get off to a quick start, and dare I say perhaps a 5-0 start?
The road gets tougher from there, with two road games against the Heat and the Celtics. In fact, all of January is fairly rough, with only 5 home games against 11 road games. Ouch.
The back-to-back-to-back stretch happens only twice, from February 14 to 16 from March 22 to 24, and it’s not too bad: Miami, @Cleveland, New Jersey, then @Washington, Phoenix, @Milwaukee.
If the Pacers are still in the playoff race (and they ought to be, though it might depend on the moves the various Eastern Conference teams make in the next few weeks), then April is relatively kind to them, as they only have 5 road games against 10 home games, including 4 straight to finish off the season (Milwaukee, Philly, Detroit and Chicago).
Also mentioned was that not every team will play against each other at least twice this season. Teams not making the trip to Conseco Fieldhouse this season include the defending champs Mavs, the Lakers, Rockets, Grizzlies, Spurs and Kings.
As the Pacers keep searching for an extra big man, let’s hope the existing core of Granger, Hibbert, Collison, Hansbrough and George can continue to grow.