Paul George's Indiana Pacers square off against LeBron James' Miami Heat on December 10 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Indiana Pacers' 2013-14 regular-season schedule features some noteworthy games Pacers fans shouldn't miss.
For a game to elicit more attention than others, some important storylines must be considered.
Or how about Chris Copeland in a Pacers uniform against the archrival New York Knicks?
Granted, there are also other games on tap in 2013-14 that should pique the interest of fans in Indianapolis:
- Victor Oladipo's NBA debut in an Orlando Magic uniform on opening day, October 29
- Cody Zeller's first game in Indianapolis on December 13
- Brad Stevens calling the shots for the Boston Celtics at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 22
However, for the purposes of this article, we will stick to NBA storylines from last season and even beyond—not on NBA debuts of Indiana sports icons.
Another important thing to consider: The Pacers will be in 17 nationally televised games.
From one in 2011-12 to seven last season to the current 17.
It's high time the Pacers get the recognition they deserve.
Danny Granger played in only five games in 2012-13.
While October 29 marks Victor Oladipo's NBA debut, it will also be Danny Granger's first game back after jumper's knee surgery.
Granger declared two months ago he should be ready to start for the Pacers at the beginning of the 2013-14 NBA season. With him back in tow, he figures to contribute to the Pacers' championship run.
Orlando should expect more of the same in 2013-14.
The Pacers are clearly the more dominant team. Balanced scoring from the starting unit should produce an easy victory within the 15-20 range.
More importantly, this will be a victory that will set the tone for the rest of the season.
Will the Derrick Rose of old show up on November 6?
Perhaps all of the NBA teams and not just the Pacers have penciled in Derrick Rose's return to their respective arenas.
Rose himself said he's 100 percent healthy, and that normally spells trouble for the opposition. However, with him missing an entire season and considering this is an early November game, count on him to be rusty.
C.J. Watson, somebody who's always given the Pacers fits as a Chicago Bull, will provide some much-needed outside sniping.
A rusty Derrick Rose and a more imposing frontcourt should help Indiana turn a close game for the first three quarters into a 10-point victory.
This is sure to send the legions of Bulls fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse home unhappy.
D.J. Augustin's one-year stint in an Indiana Pacers uniform didn't go well as hoped. He joins Hansbrough in Toronto this season.
Two former Pacers squaring off against Indiana should be interesting.
The Pacers also beat the Raptors on the first day of the 2012-13 regular season on George Hill's running jumper, so Toronto is out to get some revenge.
Expect this to be a shootout between Rudy Gay and Paul George, two guys who love competing against each other. Emerging big man Amir Johnson should also make a statement in this one.
As for Hansbrough and Augustin? They should also contribute, but not significantly.
Just like the opening game of last season, this should go down the wire. The Raptors should foil the Pacers at home by two or three points.
The Indiana Pacers go up against the New York Knicks on November 20 at Madison Square Garden.
November 20 will be the date when Chris Copeland returns to Madison Square Garden in an Indiana Pacers uniform.
Former Pacer Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani will want to make a statement as new members of the New York Knicks.
These subplots should make Indiana and New York's tussle an interesting one.
Here, just as in the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Pacers are going to use their height to their advantage. The Knicks won't be able to match up with Indiana's big men even with Bargnani, who's known to be a poor rebounder.
Copeland will contribute 10-12 points off the bench, a sign of things to come against his former team.
Carmelo Anthony will be his usual high-scoring self, while New York native Lance Stephenson, who struggled at Madison Square Garden in last season's playoffs, is due for a breakout game in front of his hometown.
Don't expect coach Frank Vogel to call another ill-advised timeout, either.
Indiana for the win by five.
Can Lance Stephenson (R) and the Indiana Pacers dethrone the Miami Heat in 2013-14?
More than anything, this will be a statement game that ought to prove Indiana's showings against Miami in both the 2012-13 regular season (Indiana beat Miami twice by double digits) and postseason weren't flukes.
Ever imagine what the outcome of their last playoff series could have been if the Pacers had a bench featuring Chris Copeland, Luis Scola and C.J. Watson? Or if Danny Granger were healthy?
Now, the Pacers have both advantages.
The Heat haven't done much except sign Greg Oden, who should make things more interesting if he ever figures to be anywhere near the dominant center he was at Ohio State.
Take nothing away from the Heat, though. They are still the defending champions.
Expect Roy Hibbert, who was a huge force at the 5-spot in the playoffs, to be the rim protector he is and lead the Pacers to a close win.
The January 20 game between the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors marks the first time they square off since the Roy Hibbert and David Lee shoving match last February.
Roy Hibbert versus David Lee.
These make this matchup between the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors enticing, sparked primarily by Hibbert and Lee's infamous shoving match in February.
The Warriors are contenders in the Western Conference with Stephen Curry leading the way. He should really be a challenge for the Pacers defense.
Hibbert and David West in particular will be tested on the boards by Lee and Andrew Bogut, two vital cogs of Golden State's frontcourt.
The Pacers and the Warriors are just about even in terms of turning the ball over, which should dictate the outcome of this ballgame.
This contest marks the first of the Pacers' five-game road trip in late January. Even if they lose this one, they should easily make up for it by beating the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings in the next two.
The Indiana Pacers face former associate head coach Brian Shaw's Denver Nuggets on February 10.
Shaw played an instrumental role in helping Paul George blossom into the player he is now. He helped dissect George's game, concluding it all boiled down to boosting his confidence.
Take it from George himself in a USA Today article from Mike Wells:
He's really helped me out. He's the one that gets on me. If I'm not playing well, if things aren't going right, and he knows I'm the reason for it, he'll let me hear about it.
Needless to say, part of the credit for why George is an All-Star, the 2013 NBA Most Improved Player, a 2013 NBA All-Defensive second-team selection and a 2013 All-NBA third-team member goes to Brian Shaw.
Nevertheless, George should come out inspired for this one. He'll prove to Shaw how great a player he is in leading Indiana to a double-digit victory on his way to a second consecutive All-Star appearance.
Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers visit Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 25.
Now that Paul George has made it clear he wants to stay with the Pacers, he should be able to help the team make several championship runs in the next several years.
I'm happy to be in Indiana. I'm happy to be where I am. If I was going to leave Indiana and come to the Lakers, it just wouldn't be a smart move for me. We got a great thing going on right now.
Not exactly the development the Los Angeles Lakers wanted.
No, not after their fans reportedly tried to convince George to play for the Lakers in 2014 during his training with USA Basketball in Las Vegas last month.
Expect the Lakers to go all out against George in this game, moreover Kobe Bryant. Byrant will put on a show, but with a weaker frontcourt after Dwight Howard's departure, Roy Hibbert and Co. should take advantage.
This victory should also help heal the sting of George Hill ripping Pacers fans for their lack of support after a home-game loss to the Lakers last March.