'We’re not easing into it:' Pacers Preseason Preview, at Hornets
The Pacers open their preseason schedule Wednesday in Charlotte. Here's what you need to know and can expect from the team.
The Pacers get things started Wednesday night in Charlotte (7:00 p.m. ET), their first of two straight on the road to begin the preseason slate. There’s 18 players on the roster, eight that have never played on this team — including three rookie draft picks.
“It’s time to get out of here and go play somebody else,” head coach Rick Carlisle declared on Tuesday after their seventh camp practice.
Carlisle has already said that he plans to have at least a 10-man rotation in the regular season and it figures to be even larger in these tune-up games. But that doesn’t mean the starters will be limited to a couple bursts. Quite the opposite.
“We’re gonna go deep,” he said. “We’re going to try to get a lot of guys minutes. At the same time, we’re going to be aggressive with playing our main guys and being real competitive. When you ease into a preseason and a set of preseason games, you tend to ease into the regular season. We want to avoid that.”
Starting point guard Tyrese Haliburton walks and talks like a veteran, but this is just his third season and his first camp with the Pacers. He already has teammates like James Johnson publicly referring to him as The Franchise.
Memories from his rookie season are still vivid, the importance of not letting their competitiveness from training camp fade.
“I get annoyed if T.J. (McConnell) is in my face all the time,” he said with a big smile. “Looking forward to playing against other people, coming together as a team and playing with other groups.
“It was really important for me my rookie year to play in the preseason against like Portland. Play against Dame (Lillard) and CJ McCollum my first game and I was kind of star struck a little bit, but you get over it quick and as you get into the season, you start to go right away.”
The starting group in camp has been the three guaranteed slots of Haliburton, Jalen Smith and Myles Turner with Chris Duarte and Buddy Hield. Turner, who’s in a contract year, pointed out how beneficial it was to Duarte to play with the Dominican Republic this summer, improving in his patience and poise.
Turner is eager to return to game action, too, since he hasn’t played in nine months due to injury. He’s now 100% healthy, but still working on his game rhythm and feel after such a long layoff. That will only come from live game action.
“Someone asked me, ‘Do you get excited for preseason basketball?’ Generally speaking,” Turner acknowledged, “it’s not really a thing that a lot of guys get up for. But me personally, I’m very excited to get back out there on the floor.