The NBA season schedule for 2010-2011 has been released.
Of course, the Indiana will play 82 games like every other team in the league, but the way the schedule is arranged could make or break a fragile team like the Pacers.
Breaking down the schedule
The Pacers play their first game on 27 October 2010 against the Spurs in San Antonio, who have finally added Brazilian Tiago Splitter to their roster. Apparently this guy is the real deal, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in his debut against the Pacers.
The second game is also on the road, against the Charlotte Bobcats (remember, a playoff team last season) on the 29th. The first home game is against the Philadelphia 76ers a day after on the 30th (and is the first game of a home-and-away series). So not the easiest of starts for the Pacers.
A tough early stretch for the Pacers between late November and early December: Orlando, @Miami, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, @LA Lakers, @Sacramento, @Utah, @Phoenix.
The longest road trip is just 4 games in January: LA Clippers, Golden State Portland and Denver. The longest home stand is also 4 games from late February to early March: Detroit, Utah, Phoenix and Golden State.
The toughest stretch in the schedule has to be in March, right when the Pacers should be making a push for the playoffs if they have a chance, or conversely tanking if they are out of the picture. Check out this brutal stretch:
@Oklahoma City, @ Dallas, @Houston, Philadelphia, @Minnesota, @Philadelphia, @New York, New York, @Boston, Chicago, @Memphis, @New Jersey, @Charlotte
Not all of them are imposing opponents but that's 10 away games with just 3 home games wedged in between.
As for the easiest part of the schedule? Well, there's no such thing for the Pacers this season.
Key dates to look out for
27 October 2010 (@San Antonio) -- the Pacers begin on the road against one of the toughest teams in one of the toughest buildings in the NBA. Let's see how good this Tiago Splitter guy is, and whether rookies Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Magnum Rolle will get any playing time. And what about Tyler Hansbrough? Will he be back to his old self?
22 November 2010 (@Miami) -- the Pacers hit the road against the new Big 3 and their talents down at South Beach. How will they cope against the trio of Wade, Lebron and Bosh? The Pacers are a team that can play up or down to the level of their opponent, so this is as good a test as they'll get.
26 November 2010 (Oklahoma City) -- last year's leading scorer Kevin Durant comes to Conseco Fieldhouse to take on Danny Granger. A couple of years ago, most people used these two guys in the same sentence, but since then Durant has streaked ahead. Can Granger bring him back down a notch?
28 November 2010 (@ LA Lakers) -- on the road against the defending champs. 'Nuff said.
15 December 2010 (LA Lakers) -- ditto, but at home.
19 December 2010 (@ Boston) -- first look at the new Boston Big...Five? Will be interesting to see how the two old O'Neals play together.
28 December 2010 (Boston) -- second look at these guys, this time at home.
31 December 2010 (Washington) -- here's a New Year's treat for Pacers fans -- no. 1 pick John Wall in Conseco Fieldhouse!
14 January 2011 (Chicago) -- the new look Chicago Bulls visit Conseco Fieldhouse.
15 February 2011 (Miami) -- the Heat visit Indiana. Should be a sell-out.
25 February 2011 (Utah) -- local produce Gordon Hayward returns to Indiana. They never had a chance at picking him anyway, so we'll never know.
15 March 2011 (New York) -- Amare Stoudemire against the Pacers. Man I miss the good old days.
13 April 2011 (@Orlando) -- the last game of the season. Will the Pacers be in the running for the playoffs?
For the full schedule, click here.