Indiana Pacers schedule 2013: Fighting the Heat, Nets and Bulls for the East

Michael Hickey

Indiana can make some statements about its place in the Eastern Conference, but it will be fighting off new contenders.

At the end of last season, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat were the class of the Eastern Conference and foresight made it appear that would remain the case. But after this summer, it's clear the Pacers would have more competition in chasing down the Heat.

Chicago got MVP Derrick Rose back after his ACL injury. The Nets swung a blockbuster trade to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Suddenly, it's more crowded atop the conference, but Indiana's regular season will give it the ability to show it's still a two-team race.

Five games to watch

Nov. 6 vs. Chicago -- Indiana gets an early-season test against a Bulls team that should be a challenger atop the Eastern Conference once again. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is back, which should be a test for a Pacers team that prides itself on defense. And any time the edgy Joakim Noah and David West face off, it's going to be a good time.

Nov. 9 at Brooklyn -- The Nets want to be called the new contenders in the conference, so the Pacers will surely face a motivated opponent. Two of the league's best centers, Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez, go at it, and additionally, Indiana backup point guard C.J. Watson returns to his home arena of a year ago.

Dec. 1 at Los Angeles Clippers -- In terms of gritty squads, none can quite counter the Pacers. But first-year Clippers coach Doc Rivers certainly would like to see his talented Los Angeles team do just that. That's why Rivers left the Celtics, and how his new squad plays against a battle-tested Indiana squad will be a key teaching point. For the Pacers, it's simply a stiff test.

Dec. 8 at Oklahoma City -- A matchup of one of the NBA's best perimeter scorers in Kevin Durant and one of its best perimeter defenders, Paul George, should make for quality entertainment. From a wider perspective, both the Pacers and the Thunder will be fighting for the right to say they're among the top teams in their respective conferences.

Dec. 18 at Miami -- For obvious reasons, Indiana and Miami's meetings are among the most gripping of the league's rivalries. George has all along been dubbed a LeBron James stopper, and both teams have upgraded their rosters. Miami picked up Greg Oden with the hopes it can finally play with a true center to combat Hibbert in the paint. And Danny Granger finally gets another crack at beating the Heat after Indiana's playoff series loss two years ago.

Tough tests

In the first week of December, one of the Pacers' two five-game road swings of the year starts with a game against the Clippers and ends with a back-to-back against the Spurs and Thunder. Indiana returns home to face the Heat twice in the next four games. In the next stretch of four games, the Pacers play the Rockets once and the Nets twice.

The Pacers also have an eight-game stretch starting March 19 that includes outings against the Knicks, Heat, Spurs, Grizzlies, Wizards, Cavs and two games against the Bulls.

Easiest stretches

Indiana has a few early strings against reasonable opponents. From Nov. 22 to Dec. 4, the Pacers have games against Boston, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Utah. And New Year's Eve marks the beginning of an eight-game stretch without an elite team in sight. Indiana plays Cleveland, Toronto, New Orleans, Cleveland again, Toronto again, Atlanta, Washington and finally, Sacramento.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 20

Season opener: Oct. 29 at home vs. Magic

Longest road trip: Five games (Dec. 1-8, Jan. 20-28)

Longest homestand: Four games (Jan. 10-18)

2013-14 schedule

OCTOBER
Orlando Tuesday, October 29 2013 7:00 PM EDT coverage
New Orleans Wednesday, October 30 2013 8:00 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
Cleveland Saturday, November 02 2013 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Detroit Tuesday, November 05 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Chicago Wednesday, November 06 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Toronto Friday, November 08 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Saturday, November 09 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Memphis Monday, November 11 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Friday, November 15 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Chicago Saturday, November 16 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
New York Wednesday, November 20 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Boston Friday, November 22 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Philadelphia Saturday, November 23 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Monday, November 25 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Wednesday, November 27 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Washington Friday, November 29 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
Los Angeles Clippers Sunday, December 01 2013 3:30 PM EST coverage
Portland Monday, December 02 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Wednesday, December 04 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Saturday, December 07 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Sunday, December 08 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Miami Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Friday, December 13 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Detroit Monday, December 16 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Miami Wednesday, December 18 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Houston Friday, December 20 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Boston Sunday, December 22 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Monday, December 23 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Saturday, December 28 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Tuesday, December 31 2013 3:00 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
Toronto Wednesday, January 01 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Saturday, January 04 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Sunday, January 05 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
Toronto Tuesday, January 07 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Wednesday, January 08 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Washington Friday, January 10 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Tuesday, January 14 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
New York Thursday, January 16 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Saturday, January 18 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Golden State Monday, January 20 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
Phoenix Wednesday, January 22 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Friday, January 24 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Denver Saturday, January 25 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, January 28 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
Phoenix Thursday, January 30 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
Brooklyn Saturday, February 01 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Orlando Monday, February 03 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Tuesday, February 04 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Portland Friday, February 07 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Orlando Sunday, February 09 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
Denver Monday, February 10 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Dallas Wednesday, February 12 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Tuesday, February 18 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Wednesday, February 19 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Saturday, February 22 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, February 25 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Thursday, February 27 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
MARCH
Boston Saturday, March 01 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Sunday, March 02 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
Golden State Tuesday, March 04 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Wednesday, March 05 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Houston Friday, March 07 2014 9:30 PM EST coverage
Dallas Sunday, March 09 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Boston Tuesday, March 11 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Philadelphia Friday, March 14 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Detroit Saturday, March 15 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Philadelphia Monday, March 17 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
New York Wednesday, March 19 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Chicago Friday, March 21 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Memphis Saturday, March 22 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Chicago Monday, March 24 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Miami Wednesday, March 26 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Washington Friday, March 28 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Cleveland Sunday, March 30 2014 3:00 PM EDT coverage
San Antonio Monday, March 31 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
Detroit Wednesday, April 02 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Toronto Friday, April 04 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Atlanta Sunday, April 06 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
Milwaukee Wednesday, April 09 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Miami Friday, April 11 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Oklahoma City Sunday, April 13 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
Orlando Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage

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