Last night was all she wrote for the preseason, and the record might not be ideal, but I’m going to call it a success. When you can rattle off three straight wins all by double figures with two of those on the road, you have to feel much better about the Indiana Pacers as they head back home to get ready for the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. Paul George gets 28 points in the final tune up before the real show begins. Roy Hibbert gets 14 points and 8 rebounds, which is right where he should be and NEEDS to be each night. The defense allows the last three opponents to score 79,89, and 77 in the respective games, which is right where that defense needs to be. If they’re only allowing that many points, they should be in plenty of games even on those cold shooting nights.
But overall, this team has had quite the journey when you look over this preseason. I do mean journey as it involved trips across the world to the Philippines and Taiwan. It all started earlier this month with the opening game against the Chicago Bulls, a game that was described as having a playoff atmosphere. Just think about that, a preseason game that felt like the postseason already. That’s something to say about where the Bulls and Pacers should be this season. Each one of those regular season games will be fun to watch, and I know that both teams are going to be vying for that Central Division title. Sorry to Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee fans, but that’s just how it is this season. Sure, we can talk futures later, and maybe your teams sneak into the playoffs. But it’s all about the Bulls and Pacers this season. That first game seemed to set the tone for what they’ll be all about this season.
Then you have the Pacers head off to the Philippines for the first preseason game ever there. Then a game in Taiwan that featured the homecoming of Jeremy Lin. I can only imagine what kind of atmosphere that had. The team makes it home for a game against the Dallas Mavericks on October 16th. The same Mavericks team they just took care of last night, but ended up getting beat by in that first meeting. Also, the second of only two home games for the Blue and Gold here in Indy. After that Dallas game, they head off to Chicago for a game on Friday, get back to Indy on a Sunday for the Fan Jam, then head back on the road the final three preseason games. I thought originally, it felt like the Pacers weren’t home for much of this preseason, and now you can see it’s true, they weren’t.
Then the team hears again about Danny Granger missing some time at the start of this regular season, something they went through last year, and that’s gotta play some part on the mindset. But like I said earlier, this finish to me, really should set the tone for how this team approaches the season. Put everything behind them that they’ve encountered over this what seemed like a long preseason, and now focus on the regular season. A season of highest expectations. I think fans are eager for not only a division title, but that Eastern Conference title. A title that will probably go through Miami, and to me if the Pacers can beat the Heat, that just makes it so much sweeter to get into those NBA Finals. I’ve said before, that even an appearance in the Finals in my own mind would be a great success for this team as what else should you expect when you’re thinking that everyone on this team is only going to get better.