As August rounds out its first full week, Hoosier sports fans quite naturally have our vision focused on Anderson University , where the Indianapolis Colts and wunderkind quarterback Andrew Luck are preparing for the first season in the post-Peyton Manning era. But, as hard as it may be to believe with the sweltering temperatures outside and the pigskins flying through the air, it really won't be that long at all until the NBA returns in full force, as well. In fact, the hometown Indiana Pacers released their 2012 preseason schedule on August 7, which means that fans can start planning our evenings and weekends around not only the Colts, but the Blue and Gold as well. Although this particular rendition of the exhibition schedule is even a bit more mundane than usual, it's still great to know that our rising NBA team will be taking the floor again before you know it.
The Pacers tip off with a trip to Fargo, North Dakota, to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 10 before the T'Wolves return the favor with a visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on the 12th. Also visiting Indianapolis during the preseason will be the Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies, so they Fieldhouse won't exactly be awash with the greatest of the NBA's current greats. At least we should get an unfettered look at how the Pacers have fared during this summer that saw the departure of team president Larry Bird and a miniature roster shakeup that saw Darren Collison shipped out of town . After successive playoff appearances and the return of some swagger to this team, I know that I'm not the only one who has high hopes for the Pacers this year. Danny Granger, for instance, has certainly not been shy in sharing his feelings about the club's abilities.
Undoubtedly the marquee match-up on the Pacers' preseason slate is the October 26 tilt with the Chicago Bulls, which actually will be held in Indiana. Alas, that game will be held on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, just a hop, skip and traffic jam from Chicago's, turning this into a de facto home affair for the Bulls. Nevertheless, this game will give us an early look at two legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference, and it may give us a pretty good idea about the health of Derrick Rose's injured (repaired) knee. If he is back at full force at this early juncture, the Bulls will be tough outs as usual and will stand as a significant roadblock to the Pacers' aspirations.
Fall is a great time to be a sports fan, and that goes double (at least) for Hoosiers in 2012. With a little Luck, both the Pacers and the Colts could be sitting pretty in no time at all.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Pacers fan since the early 1980s and has witnessed the rise and fall of a great NBA franchise. He follows the current club closely and is happy to see the Pacers begin their next ascent.