We now know that Danny Granger is playing tonight. We still don’t know if he’ll last more than five minutes or be mobile/pain-free enough to be effective. He says his ankle is the size of a small softball. As far as I know, softball’s are pretty standardized size-wise. So Ihis ankle is a little smaller than a softball? Or perhaps bigger than a baseball? Or maybe he’s exaggerating completely and its just a little bigger than normal? Who knows.
But here is what Granger said about his injury, as reported by ESPN Heat beat writer Brian Windhorst.
Danny Granger’s ankle is swollen “like a small softball” and he’s on “every type of anti-inflammatory” he’s ever heard of, but he plans to play as his team faces elimination against the Miami Heat Thursday night.
He added this.
Granger is the Pacers’ primary defender on James and said he expects the Heat star to target him early in the game to test his mobility.
“Logic would tell you he would,” Granger said. “I know when we know a player has an injury, it’s definitely in our mind and we attack it. So I’m sure he will. He’s been in attack mode anyway, and I’m sure he’ll be even more in attack mode knowing that I’m limited. But I rise to the challenge.”
There’s the rub. The Pacers probably need Granger to beat the Heat considering how well LeBron and Dwyane Wade have been playing. Offensively, even a limited Granger should help. But defensively, they really can’t afford to have LeBron have an even easier time out there than he has over the past few games. Without Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, Miami’s pick-and-pop game is basically nonexistent so that should help the Pacers’ team defense contain LeBron. But if Granger can’t be physical with him like he has throughout the series, Paul George may have to be the one who tries to keep James in check while Dahntay Jones does his best on Wade. Or, better yet, still George on LeBron, let George Hill get manhandled by Dwyane and let Darren Collison run the point for 35 minutes while you hope that perimeter speed/quickness advantage can neutralize what you lose on the other end.
Regardless, we should know within the opening minutes of Game 6 whether or not Granger is worth giving minute to and if the team needs to implement a contingency plan that it hasn’t really tested yet this season. Granger only missed one start this season before sitting the final two games of the regular season, when the rotation was all weird anyway since those games were effectively meaningless. And the one game he did miss before that, on February 15 against Cleveland, came on a night that Hill also sat with an injury and Leandro Barbosa wasn’t on the team yet. So basically, this team as currently constructed, hasn’t played without it’s captain yet.
And I’m sure the Pacers are praying to the gods of medical science that they don’t have to tonight for the first time during what could be their last game of the season.