The injuries really piled up in the past week for the Indiana Pacers, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Not that there’s ever a “good time” for injuries. But right now, when the Pacers are heading out for a tough road trip and trying to solidify the playoff spot, the injuries they have are not ideal. But the good news is that guys should be coming back along the way.
Danny Granger is the big injury that’s been around the team this whole season. Fans have seen the emergence of Paul George thanks to this injury. But there’s no doubt, the Pacers could use Danny Granger in some way. He was huge last season during the playoffs, and that type of leadership is needed come playoff time. Sounds like Granger will get “one last shot” to get healthy and if that doesn’t work, we probably won’t see him at any point this season. That’s a big loss for the team, but then again, the Pacers have been playing without him anyways. He came back for five games, but in those five games, he didn’t look close to where he should be. He’s a slow starter anyways, and missing all this time probably was going to hurt him even more. If he can come back, I would think the Pacers bring him off the bench, even possibly doing that for the playoffs. It’s important to keep the chemistry of what’s working, and in that sense, Granger should be on the second unit. If he can provide at least 10-15 points there, the bench becomes much more better than what it has been. But I hope he wouldn’t force the issue of scoring too much in that role.
David West would be the current injured Pacer that I am most concerned about. He’s got a back injury, which people say you never know when those type of injuries can fully heal. If he can’t go for the Pacers, they could be hurting for the playoffs. David West has been as solid as ever for this team, and someone that I would call the closer for the Pacers. They need a basket late in the game, give it to West. They need some rebound at the end, West will get it. He’s such a tough player for the team that they would miss that greatly. But I think he should be coming back around later this week, and hopefully won’t be hurting too much because of that.
George Hill is due back soon as well, and he’s another guy that just needs to be out there for the Pacers. D.J. Augustin has really stepped up when he’s had to start. But once again, the Pacers need that point guard leadership of Hill. Hill is a much better scorer and distributor than Augustin. He’s really stepped into the starting point guard position this season after mostly playing the shooting guard position. I think he’s got that leadership ability as well that could be such a good thing when the Pacers are down. His defense is a bit better than Augustin as well, but something that will have to shape up for the playoffs.
Finally, Lance Stephenson is a guy that’s been out the last game along with Hill. Stephenson has come a long way in his days with the Pacers. He still makes those decisions that will make you say “Bad Lance” but then he’ll make that play that makes you say “Oh My Goodness, Lance.” It’s a very fine line to walk, but that is the game of Stephenson. He’s really come along in the shooting guard position, and when he gets the chance to be aggressive, he takes it. He’s probably the best passer on the team, and he’ll always be looking for that guy open. This is a good thing until that other guy doesn’t realize he’s open. Stephenson can improve upon the shooting more to become the ultimate threat out there, and that should come along with more game time.
All the pieces of the puzzle are important for this Pacers team to make a run to at least the Conference Finals. That first round and second round match ups will be tough. But the goal for the team has to be the Conference Finals, if they want to be taken seriously as a team. Who knows what the team will look like next year, so the time is now for them to make some noise.