Roy Hibbert and company are ready to make a title run
The Indiana Pacers showed everyone last season that they're ready to make a title run.
Indiana made it to the second round of the playoffs last year, losing to Miami. The Pacers made it a very interesting series, going up 2-1 at one point. They then lost the last three to be sent home.
The Pacers added some new players this offseason, including D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green. The addition of these players will make this lineup even stronger.
Here is a look at five games that need to be watched in the first full month of the season.
D.J. Augustin will look to face his old team for the first time in November.
Normally, a game against Charlotte would not be an important game to watch.
However, this will be a reunion game for D.J. Augustin, who played for Charlotte last season.
Augustin averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last year. He will be a solid backup for fellow point guard George Hill.
This will also be good game to watch the other addition to the team, Gerald Green. Green averaged 12.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He'll be getting solid minutes behind Paul George and Danny Granger.
Look for this game to be a good preview of how Green and Augustin will play this year. Augustin will most likely have more motivation going into this game than most in the earlier part of the season.
Tim Duncan is a force to be reckoned with
This game will be the first big test for the Pacers.
The San Antonio Spurs finished last season with a 50-16 record, good enough for the No. 1 seed in last year's playoffs. Unfortunately, their season ended in the conference finals, losing four games to two against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
If the Pacers want to be noticed this season, they need to be able to pull off big wins. This game will be a good indicator for Pacers fans to see how their team will deal with the NBA's elite.
The absence of Dirk will hurt the Mavericks.
Mark Cuban's team will produce another tough game in November.
The Dallas Mavericks went 36-30 last year, being swept by the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
The Mavericks will have a tough time starting the season without All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki underwent knee surgery on Friday, and will miss six weeks (via ESPN). The Mavericks will need to step up in order to keep the season on track.
Indiana will need to win this game. When a team is without its star player, it is crucial to get a win out of it however possible.
The Knicks have a lot of star power on their side.
The Knicks and Pacers have a long history with each other. While the Reggie Miller vs. Spike Lee head-to-head battle won't be taking place, this will still be a big game for both sides.
The Knicks finished last year with a 36-30 record. They lost against Miami in the first round, only winning one game in the series.
The loss of Jeremy Lin was negated by the addition of Jason Kidd this offseason. Along with Kidd, the Knicks also still have their superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
This game will be a good opportunity to see how Danny Granger matches up against an All-Star. Granger is not a bad defender and has slowed down big time players before. Also look for Roy Hibbert to be matched up against Tyson Chandler.
The additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are big news this offseason
Indiana was able to win this head-to-head in L.A. last season, winning 98-96. However, this is not the same Lakers team they saw last year.
The Lakers made two big additions to their team over the summer, adding Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The addition of these two now gives the Lakers a projected lineup of five All-Star players.
The Lakers finished last season with a 41-25 record, losing to the Thunder in the second round.
This game will be Roy Hibbert's biggest matchup the entire season. Hibbert is a good defender, but Howard is considered the best center in the league. Hibbert will need to play at his best in order to stop Howard.
George Hill will have a big matchup against Steve Nash. Hill will need to be aggressive against Nash, who is not the best defender. He will also need to limit Nash offensively.
If the Pacers can focus on the key matchups, they should be able to hold off the Lakers.