Pacers-Nets opener a who's who

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets have some similarities heading into their season opener Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers traded star forward Paul George, who announced he would likely leave Indiana after the 2017-18 season as a free agent, and have 10 new faces.

The Nets, coming off an NBA-worst 20-62 record, add six new players, including D'Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe.

The Pacers earned the No. 7 seed in last season's playoffs and were swept by Cleveland in the first round.

"I think everyone is excited about the opportunity," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "We'll have 10 new faces on the roster going into the season. Anytime you move to a new home there is some excitement. We've had a good training camp and it's time to play a real game."

Point guard Darren Collison is a new and an old face for Indiana. Collison, who was signed as a free agent, was with the Pacers for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

"Everybody is feeling good now," Collison said. "I think we have a good vibe going on. We're excited. It's like the first day of school. Everyone is excited, fans are excited, but most importantly we have business to handle. We're going to try to make a playoff run and it starts with this first game."

The Pacers traded George to Oklahoma City for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis. Indiana will have to start the season without Glenn Robinson III, who had surgery on his left ankle and is expected to be out until at least December.

McMillan has heard the doubters' talk.

"We talk about people writing us off, certainly," McMillan told The Indianapolis Star. "I've certainly talked about what people are saying, what the NBA is saying about us. You lose a talented player as we did in Paul (George), you changed your roster, you go with a younger roster, that's what people start to say. We have something to motivate us."

Forward Thaddeus Young, a returning starter along with center Myles Turner, is optimistic.

"You go through changes and go through restructuring, I try to say we're reloading not rebuilding," Young said. "We have a lot of guys that can play and help this team win games."

For Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, it takes more than hard work.

"Playing hard isn't enough," Atkinson told The New York Post. "We've got to play a little smarter."

Russell, who was traded to Brooklyn from the Los Angeles Lakers with center Timofey Mozgov for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA draft, likes the Nets' attitude in the preseason.

"In the last few years, teams come in and say you can take nights off," Russell said to "I want to rebuild that and make it a place where people and say, 'All right, we've got the crowd against us. It's New York.' I know I'm coming in with an edge. Allen Crabbe, he's coming in with an edge. DeMarre Carroll has an edge. We're a confident team and we're looking forward to doing what we do."

Atkinson has been impressed with the preseason play of Crabbe, who averaged 10.7 points and shot 44.4 percent from 3-point range for Portland last season.

"We can talk about the points, but I just like he just makes a simpler play," Atkinson said. "If it's not there he'll make the next pass to the open guy. There is no extra waste of movement. Yeah, of course it's great if the shot goes in but he is a really good all-around basketball player."
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