Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger’s Return Vaults Pacers To Championship Contender

Danny Granger

Danny Granger will create more offensive options for the Indiana Pacers. Photo Credit: Yuan2003, Flickr.com

Who would have guessed that the Indiana Pacers would be 33-21 without Danny Granger? Yet here we are, with the Pacers just a half game behind the New York Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. That’s the same Knicks team that got throttled 125-91 by the Pacers on February 20.

While the record is surprising, the way they’re doing it and the teams that they’re defeating is even more impressive. Against the other seven teams currently in the Eastern Conference playoffs (Heat, Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Hawks, Celtics and Bucks), the Pacers are an unspectacular 8-8, but they’re 7-3 in 2013.

It took the Pacers a while to get hot, but now they’re rolling and things are about to get even better. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Over the Pacers’ last 11 games, they are 7-4, with three overtime losses and a one-point loss with .4 seconds remaining. However, each of their seven wins have come by double-digits.

G Date Opponent Tm Opp W L Streak Notes
44 Sat, Jan 26, 2013 Box Score @ Utah Jazz L OT 110 114 26 18 L 2
45 Mon, Jan 28, 2013 Box Score @ Denver Nuggets L 101 102 26 19 L 3
46 Wed, Jan 30, 2013 Box Score Detroit Pistons W 98 79 27 19 W 1
47 Fri, Feb 1, 2013 Box Score Miami Heat W 102 89 28 19 W 2
48 Mon, Feb 4, 2013 Box Score Chicago Bulls W 111 101 29 19 W 3
49 Tue, Feb 5, 2013 Box Score Atlanta Hawks W 114 103 30 19 W 4
50 Wed, Feb 6, 2013 Box Score @ Philadelphia 76ers W 88 69 31 19 W 5
51 Fri, Feb 8, 2013 Box Score Toronto Raptors L OT 98 100 31 20 L 1
52 Mon, Feb 11, 2013 Box Score Brooklyn Nets L OT 84 89 31 21 L 2
53 Wed, Feb 13, 2013 Box Score Charlotte Bobcats W 101 77 32 21 W 1
54 Wed, Feb 20, 2013 Box Score New York Knicks W 125 91 33 21 W 2
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/21/2013.

The Pacers can win in many different ways, but it’s their defense that has gotten them to this point. They are No. 1 in the NBA, giving up just 89.9 points per game. To be fair, the Pacers do play a slow pace and are No. 26 in the NBA, with just 89.7 possessions per-48 minutes. However, they are No. 1 in the league in defensive rating.

With a defense like that, they can overcome any lack of offense they have. That’s about to get better.

Danny Granger has been out since the beginning of the 2012-13 season with left patellar tendinitis, but he’s slated to come back any day now.

Mike Wells of IndyStar.com reported that a return is imminent, with Granger already taking part in full practices.

Granger will bring that offense that the Pacers have been lacking. He’s led the team in scoring each of the last five years and is a guy who makes everyone around him better. He’s not a defensive stalwart, but his deficiencies are somewhat covered up because of the quality of defenders around him.

Season Age Tm G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2005-06 22 IND 78 17 22.6 2.8 6.1 .462 0.4 1.2 .323 1.5 1.9 .777 1.7 3.2 4.9 1.2 0.7 0.8 1.0 2.7 7.5
2006-07 23 IND 82 57 34.0 4.9 10.6 .459 1.3 3.5 .382 2.9 3.6 .803 1.4 3.3 4.6 1.4 0.8 0.7 1.6 3.0 13.9
2007-08 24 IND 80 80 36.0 6.7 15.1 .446 2.1 5.3 .404 4.0 4.7 .852 1.2 4.9 6.1 2.1 1.2 1.1 2.1 3.6 19.6
2008-09 25 IND 67 66 36.2 8.5 19.1 .447 2.7 6.7 .404 6.0 6.9 .878 0.7 4.4 5.1 2.7 1.0 1.4 2.5 3.1 25.8
2009-10 26 IND 62 62 36.7 7.9 18.4 .428 2.5 7.1 .361 5.9 6.9 .848 1.1 4.4 5.5 2.8 1.5 0.8 2.5 3.0 24.1
2010-11 27 IND 79 79 35.0 6.8 15.9 .425 2.0 5.2 .386 5.0 5.9 .848 1.1 4.3 5.4 2.6 1.1 0.8 2.6 2.7 20.5
2011-12 28 IND 62 62 33.3 6.3 15.2 .416 2.0 5.2 .381 4.1 4.7 .873 1.3 3.7 5.0 1.8 1.0 0.6 1.8 2.3 18.7
Career 510 423 33.2 6.2 14.1 .438 1.8 4.7 .384 4.1 4.8 .847 1.2 4.0 5.2 2.0 1.0 0.9 2.0 2.9 18.2
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/21/2013.

In Granger’s absence, it’s been Paul George that has elevated himself to star status. Getting Granger back means George will have some of the pressure taken off of his shoulders. George has averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals this year and was selected to his first All-Star game.

We know Granger is a quality basketball player who is more talented offensively than defensively. We also know the Pacers are one of (if not the) best defensive teams in the league. Granger is going to give them a boost where they need it most. Keep an eye on these Pacers when the playoffs come around. If there’s a team that can knock off the Miami Heat, it’s them.

Topics: Indiana Pacers, NBA

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