Mumbai: NBA Games are finally here! After a week of build-up to today’s promising evening, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers will charge into history as they become first teams from the American league to go One on One on Indian soil.
“I am super-excited, I am a Mumbaikar and I am back in the city of my birth, the land of my forefathers. To be able to actually have a pre-season game for my Sacramento Kings against Indiana Pacers here is one of the most exciting days of my life,” said Kings’ Indian owner Vivek Randive. “I expect every person here to be cheering for the Sacramento Kings,” he added.
Though the matches are a part of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) global pre-season games to promote basketball in untapped markets, Indian fans can expect nothing less from the two teams.
“No matter who is on the court, it will be very high-level basketball because both teams know how important it is to us, and how important it is to the NBA. It is our first pre-season game and we want to get into the rhythm. This is a start to lot more pre-season games coming here (in India),” Kings player Harrison Barnes said.
Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton also promised high-quality basketball as they gear up to take on Indiana Pacers. “We love the group we have and… it’s about getting our team to come together (before the season),” Walton said.
Despite having won the NBA title only once, Sacramento Kings sprung a few surprises last season and finished just shy of the playoff spot. The 21-year-old De’Aaron Fox, who recorded 590 assists last season, combined with Buddy Hield to turn the Kings into a powerful opponent.
Meanwhile, Indiana Pacers will be waiting to get back on winning ways after being thumped by the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs. Their coach Nate McMillan emphasised on the importance of both the games, “The NBA in the last couple of years have cut the pre-season games so they’ve become even more important. We used to play about eight preseason games a year and now we’re down to four a year and we do not have a lot of opportunities to kinda warm-up and allow your guys to play and get the rhythm. So all these games are important to look at the news guys that you have on your roster and some young guys that will play for minutes and rotation spots.”
McMillan continued and said that he had high expectations from Malcolm Brogdon, given that Victor Oladipo will be missing a good chunk of the upcoming season.
“He’s going to be a leader. Malcolm has been a pleasure to work within the last few days. We were really happy and excited to get him on board. For him to be coming to Indiana and playing for us, he will be a guy that will be able to establish our offense and defense how we want to play. Very smart, intelligent guard with a high basketball IQ. He’s had some success in this league already and we feel we’re getting him at the right time. He’s not quite yet in his prime and we feel he’s gonna be the guard to lead us into the future.”
The pre-season ties, called the NBA Global Games, are the biggest basketball matches ever to happen in India and will take place at Dome, NSCI, SVP Stadium in Mumbai on Friday and Saturday.