Ready to go: Pacers open 2022-23 season with three-game homestand
Plus notes on Turner's Block, Bally Sports+, PA Announcers and the league honoring Bill Russell.
The Pacers begin a new season in the comfort of their own home.
It’s three straight at Gainbridge Fieldhouse to start the 2022-23 season. Against the Wizards on Wednesday, then the Spurs and Pistons on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
And there’s as much newness and excitement surrounding the team as there is to see the renovated Fieldhouse ready for prime time after the completion of $360 million in upgrades.
“Camp has been good,” said head coach Rick Carlisle, who enters his second season leading the team. “It gets a little long at this point so it’s gonna be good to have our regular crowd in there on opening night. We’ve got an exciting young group that’s anxious to play.”
Turner’s been here since 2015 and there are a lot of new faces. He hasn’t played in a game since mid-January because of a foot concern, so he hasn’t played since Domantas Sabonis was traded and Tyrese Haliburton joined the squad.
He’s entering his eighth season whereas many of the players on this roster were just becoming teenagers then. So his message to them is to relish the moment.
“You’ve worked your entire life to get to this point, now you just let it all hang out,” Turner said before opening night. “You went through the preseason, you went through the draft process, you went through training camp, now it’s time for the real thing. Once that moment hits, these guys will be just fine.”
There are seven newcomers, including three rookies. Daniel Theis (right knee soreness) won’t play and Aaron Nesmith (plantar fascia, left foot) is unlikely to go. He hasn’t been a full participant in almost two weeks.
It’s Tyrese Haliburton’s team and No. 6 pick Bennedict Mathurin is ready to add his intensity, athleticism and desire to win on this team. Both players have a good chance of being special players, not just in Indy but also in the entire NBA.
Turner said he felt camp was best for getting acclimated with everyone and for the young guys to just play.
“Just being together, getting chemistry and letting guys get reps,” he said. “I think repetition is so huge in this league. You can try to do it in practices, but preseason and actually playing in some games against real competition — that’s the best way to do it. I always call it Trial by Fire, just get out there and just go. That experience is crucial.”
Below are a few things to know about the team off the court…
Turner’s Block Back
This is something I’ve been tracking for months. Turner’s Block is Myles’ fan section that launched in 2016, his second season as a pro. And the whole concept was launched by Roy Hibbert and former team staff member Heather Denton more than a decade ago.
Turner’s Block is confirmed for another season, but it’s something they’ve been working hard on this week — executing the final details, designing graphics and getting approval.
I wasn’t expecting it … because it was very possible that Turner was traded before the season. And it’s likely that he’s dealt before the end of the season because he’s in a contract year and the team can’t risk losing him for nothing. They also have Isaiah Jackson and others waiting for a bigger role.
But I give Myles a ton of credit. Even as he wasn’t sure if he’d be back with the team and in Indy for training camp last month, he wanted to follow through. He didn’t want to leave fans behind and do his part.
So, together with Mountain Dew for another season, Turner’s Block is back. And it’s returning to Section 101 — in the corner by the Pacers’ bench. Last season, the group was placed in the balcony and they may as well been in another building because they couldn’t have an impact up there.
The Pacers extended their local television contract with Bally Sports Indiana in September and the network has launched a direct-to-consumer application. So for those who don’t have cable or don’t get BSI with their streaming package (YouTube TV, Hulu, etc.) you can pay $19.99/month to watch Pacers games.
They will be airing all 82 regular-season games.
I’m very interested in how it goes so if you subscribe to Bally Sports+, let me know how it goes this week.
Two PA Announcers
The Pacers will have two split public address announcing duties again this season. It’s Shawn Sullivan and Troy Pepper.
DJ … On The Court
New this season, a DJ on the court during player warmups. This will go on for a few hours before each home game. It’s something that is done by many teams, but a first for the Pacers.
Honoring the late Bill Russell
The Celtics great passed away in the offseason. All 30 NBA teams will wear a No. 6 patch on their jerseys and there will be a logo at center court — like you see above at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
And once again, it’s a gold out at the home opener. All fans will receive this t-shirt.