Pacers visit former friend-turned foe O'Neal

Jermaine O'Neal

The 82-Game Season can be a grind.

"I know we're playing Toronto on Wednesday, couldn't tell you who we're playing after that, commented Pacers coach Jim O'Brien moments after Sunday's overtime loss to Boston.

But the next one jumps off the schedule. A match-up against the Raptors and former face of the franchise Jermaine O'Neal.

"It will be good to see Jermaine, but once the ball goes up he's just an opponent with a skill set that we have to be concerned with," O'Brien commented after Tuesday's practice.

Jermaine played just 42 games during his final season in Indianapolis.  His eight years in Pacer gear were up-and-down, an era when flashes of brilliance were mixed with weeks of inactivity.

"I think you know, he's happy to have a fresh start.  You know he's been battling a few injuries as of lately, but I think he's going to be hyped up to play us.  It's going to be good, friendly competition out there," said Pacer guard Marquis Daniels.

Sure Wednesday's game is important for Pacer fans as Indiana takes on Jermain O'Neal.  But it is also a big game for T.J. Ford, one of three Pacers returning to Toronto to play in a familiar setting.

"It is the team that traded me this summer, I do have alot of friends...Just looking forward to going into the arena seeing some of the staff, guys I'm still close to," said Ford.

T-J's time was up on Toronto, much like J-O's situation in Indianapolis...Adding just a little intrigue to a regular season game.

"Two cities where guys did alot for the team, alot for the community.  Both parties felt the need for a change.  We changed scenery and now we're trying to do the best we can for our teams," added Ford.

But this is not just a big game for O'Neal and Ford, both the Pacers and Raptors under the .500 mark and in need of a victory.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times