After four dress rehearsals, the new-look Indiana Pacers will take the floor for their first regular season game of the 2017-18 season on Wednesday night, when they welcome the Brooklyn Nets to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Opening Night presented by Kroger.
Fittingly, the early theme for the 51st season of Pacers basketball seems to be the start of a new chapter. Just five players return from last year's Opening Night roster. The franchise also underwent a major overhaul over the summer, unveiling new uniforms and a new court design, opening a brand new practice facility (the St. Vincent Center), and even changing the in-game lighting inside The Fieldhouse.
Media expectations are low for the Blue & Gold after they traded away four-time All-Star Paul George and let three starting caliber guards (Jeff Teague, C.J. Miles, and Monta Ellis) walk in free agency.
Yet there is palpable excitement for this year's team, both among the fanbase and in the locker room.
OPENING WEEK PRESENTED BY KROGER: Secure Your Seats for Both Games This Week »
Perhaps the most interesting storyline this season will be the development of third-year center Myles Turner, a 21-year-old rising star with his sights set on making his first All-Star team, after George's departure. Also of note are the return of former Indiana University All-American Victor Oladipo (the favorite to lead the Pacers in scoring this year) back to the Hoosier state and the nightly roller coaster of watching fan favorite Lance Stephenson push the ball on the fastbreak.
For what it's worth, this year's team has raved about the chemistry they developed over offseason workouts and through training camp. The young group (with 10 players 27 or younger) has already spent a ton of time together both on and off the court. Turner, who seems to have willingly embraced a leadership role, has spoken at length about the close bond forming within the locker room.
Whether that bond pays dividends on the court, only time will tell.
The Nets had the worst record in the NBA last season, but there is hope in Brooklyn thanks to the offseason acquisition of D'Angelo Russell. The Lakers sent the 21-year-old point guard to the Nets along with center Timofey Mozgov in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (which they used on Utah forward Kyle Kuzma).
Russell was the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and averaged 14.3 points and 4.0 assists over 143 games with the Lakers, but became expendable when the Lakers had the chance to take UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball in this year's draft. Russell's addition offers some hope for the future for a Nets fanbase in dire need of hope after watching the franchise send multiple high lottery picks to Boston over the past couple years due to a much-maligned trade.
Pacers: PG - Darren Collison, SG - Victor Oladipo, SF - Bojan Bogdanovic, PF - Thaddeus Young, C - Myles Turner
Nets: PG - Jeremy Lin, SG - D'Angelo Russell, SF - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, PF - DeMarre Carroll, C - Timofey Mozgov
Pacers: Glenn Robinson III - out (left high ankle sprain), Edmond Sumner - out (left knee surgery rehabilitation), Ike Anigbogu - questionable (right knee surgery rehabilitation)
February 3, 2017: The Nets rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half to take the lead in the fourth quarter before the Pacers righted the ship and came away with a 106-97 victory in Brooklyn.
Paul George and Jeff Teague each scored 24 points in the victory. George struggled with his shot for much of the night, going 9-for-22 from the field, but he pulled down 11 rebounds to register his fourth double-double of the season. Teague was an efficient 6-for-10 from the field and 10-for-13 from the free throw line while also dishing out seven assists.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting and six rebounds. Sean Kilpatrick (18 points) and Joe Harris (15 points) both had strong performances off the bench.
- The Pacers are 100-72 in the all-time series with the Nets, including a 61-25 record at home.
- Indiana won its final three games against Brooklyn in the 2016-17 season and has won 11 of its last 15 contests against the Nets.
- Pacers starting forwards Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic both previously played for Brooklyn (Young from 2014-16 and Bogdanovic from 2014-17).
- Both Pacers guard Lance Stephenson and Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead were McDonald's All-Americans at Brooklyn's Lincoln High School, with Stephenson graduating in 2009 and Whitehead in 2014.
The Pacers tip off the 2017-18 regular season by hosting two games for Opening Week presented by Kroger. First, they host the Brooklyn Nets on Opening Night presented by Kroger on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7:00 PM ET. Then, they will welcome Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, Oct. 20 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.
Construction Note: The city's department of public works is replacing the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Street from just north of Georgia Street to Bankers Life Court. Portions of the sidewalk may be closed, but pedestrians should still have access to the Pennsylvania Street entrance of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.