Well, the Indiana Pacers wanted to move up the ladder in the Eastern Conference to compete with the likes of the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics and now they are finding out first hand what that all entails.
Persevering through the injuries is part of achieving such success.
And now the Pacers will have the next three months to show the rest of the league if they can walk that walk.
The Pacers announced Wednesday that their franchise player, Danny Granger, could be out until February after receiving an injection in his left knee to treat left patellar tendinitis. He is expected to miss at least the next three months of action.
In all, Granger’s absence could exclude him from 46 of the Pacers regular season games, putting the onus on the entire team to step up in his absence. A large part of that duty, however, will be placed upon Gerald Green and Sam Young who will likely swap starts while Granger is out.
It's going to have to be a team concept," head coach Frank Vogel said. "Everybody has to step up, not looking to force, but elevate their level to play. We're not thinking big picture. We're thinking win our next game with the guys we have. That has to be our focus each day.
It has been a rough last month for Granger and even more as the knee troubles go back to last season and the Eastern Conference semifinals versus the Miami Heat. As of last week, he was “out indefinitely” after appearing in just two preseason games and experiencing pain in his left knee.
Replacing Granger goes beyond filling the void of his 18.7 points per game scoring average from last season. The Pacers will turn to Paul George to help shoulder that load. David West is part of that equation too, yet it is George who is suddenly pushed to the forefront of having a breakout year if he can pick up Granger’s slack.
That is a big “if” however.
The trouble is, when Granger and George share the floor at the same time it is George who benefits the most from defenses either double-teaming Granger and making him the focus. And while George’s athleticism will help him elevate his game, the defensive focus now shifts to the 22-year old swing guard.
Unfortunately, George missed his chance to shine on Wednesday night against Atlanta when he missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the game, clinching the win for the Hawks, 89-86.
He finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Green and Young combined for 7 points and 7 rebounds. Not exactly Granger-worthy numbers for Green and Young, but this is the reality the Pacers now face for at least the next three months.
There is also the off chance that Indiana will sign a free agent to help replace Granger. Mickael Pietrus, Josh Howard and Quentin Richardson are just three names being associated with the Pacers.
Until then it's all about a complete team effort for Indiana.
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