Last Updated: Oct. 4 at 4:00 PM ET
It's hard to believe, but the Pacers will be in action on Thursday night, tipping off the 2018-19 preseason in Houston against the Rockets. In a scheduling quirk, Indiana's entire preseason schedule will take place on the road, with games every other day between Oct. 4 and 10.
The Pacers return most of their core from the team that stunned the NBA last season, winning 48 games and taking the eventual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. All five starters and seven of the top eight scorers from 2017-18 are back, but Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard also made some moves this offseason to bolster Indiana's attack.
Thursday's game will offer Pacers fans the first glimpse of free agent signings Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, and Kyle O'Quinn, as well as draft picks Aaron Holiday and Alize Johnson. Evans — who averaged 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists last season for Memphis — and McDermott — a career 40.3 percent 3-point shooter — will definitely be a part of Indiana's rotation. O'Quinn, a physical presence who sets hard screens and crashes the boards, could play a large role as well.
The Blue & Gold enter the preseason relatively healthy, but veteran forward Thaddeus Young has missed most of training camp with a minor foot injury. Young likely will miss Thursday's exhibition against the Rockets, creating an opportunity for second-year forward TJ Leaf to slide into a starting role and see increased minutes. Leaf, the 18th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, played sparingly as a rookie but is trying to earn a spot in the rotation backing up Young this year (O'Quinn is his main competition).
The Rockets, meanwhile, have championship aspirations. Houston had the best record in the NBA last season at 65-17 and the league MVP in James Harden, but lost to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets' major offseason addition was 10-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony, who struggled to mesh with Russell Westbrook and Paul George last season in Oklahoma City but could be a better fit for Houston's offensive attack that relies heavily on 3-point shooting.
Pacers: PG - Darren Collison, SG - Victor Oladipo, SF - Bojan Bogdanovic, PF - TJ Leaf, C - Myles Turner
Rockets: PG - Chris Paul, SG - James Harden, SF - James Ennis, PF - Carmelo Anthony, C - Marquese Chriss
Pacers: Thaddeus Young - out (foot)
Rockets: Clint Capela - doubtful (right foot soreness), Brandon Knight - out (left knee injury), Nenê - out (right calf tightness), Zhou Qi - questionable (right ankle sprain), P.J. Tucker - out (sore back)
November 29, 2017: The Rockets made 14 of their 18 3-pointers after halftime as they cruised to a 118-97 win in Houston.
James Harden flirted with a triple-double in the victory, finishing with 29 points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists. Clint Capela added 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 13 rebounds for Houston.
Thaddues Young led Indiana with 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting in the loss, while Victor Oladipo added 19 points, five rebounds, and five steals.
Pacers center Myles Turner recorded his third double-double of the season, tallying 15 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks. Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points) and Lance Stephenson (11 points and four assists) also reached double figures.
- Rockets guard Gerald Green was a member of the 2012-13 Pacers team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Pacers forward Kyle O'Quinn was teammates in New York with Carmelo Anthony for two seasons from 2015-17. Pacers forward Doug McDermott was actually part of the trade package that Oklahoma City used last summer to acquire Anthony from the Knicks.
- Former Purdue star Vincent Edwards is a rookie with the Rockets. Houston acquired Edwards, the 52nd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, in a draft night trade with the Utah Jazz.
A number of great ticket plans are available for the 2018-19 Pacers season. Secure your seats today to be a part of the next chapter of Pacers basketball. 2018-19 Tickets »
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