Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog - Unique schedule equal parts challenge and opportunity

Unique schedule equal parts challenge and opportunity

Indianapolis (Dec. 6, 2011) -- It begins on the day after Christmas at home against Detroit and ends four months later at home against Chicago. In between, the Pacers' 2011-12 schedule offers a little bit of everything -- except the norm.

With 66 games instead of 82, a little tweaking had to be done by the NBA, resulting in a schedule unlike any other.

The team will need to emerge from truncated training camp ready to go. The Pacers play 15 of their first 22 on the road, including three trips of at least three games -- their only such trips of the season. Still, there is opportunity to build momentum and confidence as the first five opponents (Pistons twice, Raptors, Cavs and Nets) were in the lottery last year.

The schedule swings back in the Pacers' favor in the final month when they finish with 10 of 12 at home.

In addition to the home opener against the Pistons, who feature rookies Brandon Knight of Kentucky and Kyle Singler of Duke, highlight games include:

  • LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat visit twice (Feb. 14 and March 26);
  • Boston's big three comes to town Jan. 14 and April 7;
  • Dwight Howard and the Magic visit Jan. 24 and Feb. 4;
  • A Feb. 7 date with Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz;
  • A March 20 date with Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and the Clippers;
  • Mark Jackson's return as Golden State's head coach on Feb. 28;
  • Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 6.
  • Chicago's only trip to Conseco Fieldhouse for a 2011 playoff rematch comes on the final regular-season game, April 25, but the abbreviated preseason schedule brings two games with the Bulls, including Dec. 16 in Conseco Fieldhouse.

The compression of the schedule will result in some challenges for every team, including the Pacers. Last season they had played 27 games before Christmas. This season, there will be two weeks tacked on in April so instead of finishing on the 13th like last season, they'll finish on the 25th in Charlotte, with 15 games in the final month compared to six last year.

Breaking it down:

  • In addition to 19 sets of traditional back-to-backs, the Pacers have two sets of triples: Feb. 14-16 (Miami, at Cleveland and New Jersey) and March 22-24 (at Washington, Phoenix, at Chicago);
  • They play four games in five nights five times;
  • Their longest Western Conference trip comes Jan. 18-22 (Kings, Warriors, Lakers). They have a two-game Texas swing March 31 at San Antonio and April 1 at Houston.
  • The 10 teams making two visits to Conseco Fieldhouse are the Heat, Celtics, Magic, Hawks, Knicks, Sixers, Pistons, Cavs, Hornets and Nets;
  • The six teams that will not come to town are the Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets and Kings.

So now the players and coaches know what awaits, schedule-wise, when they begin training camp here Friday: a challenge at the start, an opportunity at the end and a grind in-between. View the Pacers 2011-12 Schedule

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