Top 10 Second Half Games
August 8, 2013
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Continuing our breakdown of the Pacers' 2013-14 schedule, below are the top 10 games (in chronological order) to look forward to in the second part of the season, following All-Star break (Feb. 13-17).
Related: Top 10 First Half Games »
Feb. 25 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
While the Lakers appeared headed for a mediocre season, Kobe Bryant, who’s recovering from a torn left Achilles, will likely have returned by this date. It’s always interesting to see how many fans wearing Lakers garb show up to The Fieldhouse in purple and gold. George Hill spoke out after the game last season saying it felt like Pacers fans were outnumbered 70-30. With Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and the history of the Lakers franchise, this is always a popular ticket.
Mar. 2 vs. Utah
Brownsburg alum and former Butler star Gordon Hayward returns to Indy for the only time this season. Fans will keep an eye on the matchup between Hayward and Paul George. Those two were selected 9th and 10th, respectively, in the 2010 NBA Draft. Both have similar builds and styles of play, and went head-to-head over the summer in Vegas for USA Basketball mini-camp.
Mar. 4 vs. Golden State
These two teams will likely be near the top of their respective conferences. While their first meeting - in Oakland on Jan. 20 - got picked up for national television, it's somewhat surprising this game didn't. The Warriors visit to Bankers Life last year had plenty of fireworks. Mark Jackson has a young, talented and compelling team that plays an exciting style of basketball. How will the Pacers defense fair against the Warriors’ offensive firepower?
Mar. 7 at Houston (ESPN)
This will be the only chance for Pacers fans to see the Dwight Howard-led Houston Rockets. He was ineffective last year, his only season with the Lakers. By this time, we’ll know whether this situation has worked better and how well he has gelled with James Harden, Chandler Parsons and the rest of the Rockets. Houston's coach is Kevin McHale – a teammate of Larry Bird in Boston.
Mar. 15 at Detroit
I know what you’re thinking, ‘Why Detroit?’ It’s a division road game late into the season and the final game during a stretch where they’ll play five of six on the road. At this point the Pacers will have less than 20 games remaining, so they’ll be on their final push to secure a top playoff seed. It could be a critical game, and one that can’t be overlooked.
Mar. 19 at New York (ESPN)
Madison Square Garden. National TV audience. Spike Lee courtside. What more could you want as the season winds down and the playoff picture becomes clearer? The Pacers defeated the Knicks in last year’s conference semifinals, but New York has added a few pieces, most notably Andrea Bargnani and former Pacer forward Metta World Peace (Ron Artest).
Mar. 24 at Chicago (NBATV)
This rivalry will intensify as the regular season winds down. This will be the second meeting between the Bulls and Pacers in four days - they also meet March 21 in Indy. Playing in the United Center is no easy task, particularly when Derrick Rose should be playing confidently and back near his MVP form. Indiana wants its second straight division crown but they’ll have to beat Chicago to keep the title. By this time, the Pacers' second unit should be cohesive and understand the Pacers’ brand of basketball. This matchup is typically a highlight of the season.
Mar. 31 vs. San Antonio (NBATV)
The wily Spurs always seem to give the Pacers fits. Roy Hibbert really respects future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and the two spend time every offseason to work out together. Fan favorite Jeff Pendergraph and former assistant Jim Boylen will be back in Indy, this time on the opposing bench. If the Pacers want to take another step forward, handling Gregg Popovich's consistent and gritty team at home would be significant progress.
Apr. 11 at Miami (NBATV)
When the Pacers and Heat square off for the fourth and final time in the regular season, there’s a chance the No. 1 seed could be on the line. Over the offseason, the Pacers have emphasized the need to have the best record in the East, which would result in home court advantage. Securing home court and improved bench production might be just what the Pacers need to trump the two-time defending champs. Taking a game in Miami would be a momentum builder for the postseason.
Apr 13 vs. Oklahoma City (NBATV)
Rounding out my top 20 games of the season is the Pacers second-to-last game of the regular season against Kevin Durant’s Thunder. This matchup quite possibly could pit the NBA’s best defense (Indiana) against the league’s top offense (Oklahoma City). However, with the playoffs about a week away, both teams – but not the fans – hope that this game won’t have any meaning because their top seeds will be locked up. Durant is one of the top players in the world, always an incredibly enjoyable player to watch…and most definitely worth checking out in person.
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