After an abbreviated offseason, a few weeks of practice, and three preseason games, the Pacers will officially open the 2020-21 season on Wednesday night, when they host their old rivals, the New York Knicks, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers promise to play faster, shoot (a lot) more 3-pointers, and play an aggressive style of defense under first-year coach Nate Bjorkgren. They offered a taste of their new identity during the preseason, attempting 40 or more threes in all three games.
But the most important thing for the Blue & Gold this season is staying healthy. Injuries have plagued the team over the past two seasons and even this preseason, but the Blue & Gold are relatively healthy entering Wednesday's opener.
Returning starters T.J. Warren and Myles Turner were back at practice on Sunday and should be good to go against the Knicks after being limited in training camp. Warren did not play in the preseason while dealing with plantar fasciitis, while Turner missed the last two exhibitions after being evaluated for a concussion.
The Knicks also have a new head coach in Tom Thibodeau. The former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach brings his defensive-minded style to the Big Apple, hoping to turn around a Knicks team that has not made the playoffs since 2013.
New York is hoping to build a contender around forwards RJ Barrett, the third overall pick in 2019, and rookie Obi Toppin, the eighth overall selection in this year's draft. Barrett showed promise as a rookie, averaging 14.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists last season. Toppin was the best player in college basketball last year, earning consensus National Player of the Year honors while at Dayton.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Victor Oladipo, SF - T.J. Warren, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Knicks: PG - Elfrid Payton, SG - Alec Burks, SF - RJ Barrett, PF - Julius Randle, C - Nerlens Noel
Pacers: T.J. Warren - questionable (right foot plantar fasciitis), Goga Bitadze - out (right ankle sprain), Brian Bowen II - out (partial groin tear), Jeremy Lamb - out (left knee rehabilation)
Knicks: Mitchell Robinson - probable (sprained right ankle), Dennis Smith Jr. - probable (contused left quadricep), Austin Rivers - out (sore right groin), Omari Spellman - out (sore right knee)
Feb. 21, 2020: T.J. Warren scored 27 points and Domantas Sabonis added 24 points and 13 rebounds as Indiana clawed its way to a 106-98 road win over the New York Knicks in its first game after the All-Star break.
Doug McDermott finished with 14 points off the bench, going 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range. Malcolm Brogdon added 11 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Bobby Portis led New York with 19 points and six rebounds off the bench. RJ Barrett added 17 points on 8-of-19 shooting, while Frank Ntilikina had 14 in the loss.
- The Pacers have won eight of their last nine games against the Knicks.
- Indiana forwards Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott each previously played for the Knicks. Holiday was in New York for the 2016-17 season, while McDermott was a Knick in 2017-18.
- The Pacers and Knicks are scheduled to meet twice in the first half of the 2020-21 season. The two teams are set to square off in New York on Feb. 27.
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)