In virtually every season preview you read about the Pacers, the author will inevitably mention just how healthy the Pacers were last year. This, in addition to the team’s lack of star power, are usually the main reasons listed for why Indiana can’t beat the Heat and also may not even make it as far in the playoffs as, say, the Celtics or one of the New York teams.
While last season’s “health luck” is starting to seem overblown given all the attention it has received, it is a concern. That’s why when Danny Granger hurt his knee a few weeks back it was troubling. The team really can’t afford to be missing any of its key pieces for any major stretch of the season. But there’s good news: He has been practicing for the past 10 or so days and will make his preseason game debut tomorrow against the Cavaliers in Cleveland, according to a report by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star.
Granger says his knee still hurts and that he remains limited in what he can do physically. For example, he still can’t jump off his left knee, in which he injured a tendon during last year’s playoffs and re-hurt. But he is obviously feeling good enough to go, although the team will restrain his playing time to no more than 12 minutes.
“Some days it feels better than other days, but I still play through the pain. I’m kind of limited to what I can do on the court, but I’m still playing.”
Granger also told Wells that he will “always have soreness,” but given that he is working through the accumulated scar tissue (he had a plasma injection in September), playing through the pain is for the best right now.
In addition to suffering a knee injury during the playoffs, Granger also sprained his ankle in Game 5 last spring against the Heat. He was forced out of the contest right after halftime (in a blowout loss that prompted Larry Bird to call Indiana “S-O-F-T”) and reportedly left the arena in a walking boot. He played in the decisive Game 6 — and played well by and large — but he was clearly affected.
For the Pacers to jump out to a hot start this season, they will likely need Granger to be at least close to full strength. They naturally want everyone healthiest at the start of the playoffs, but every win matters for seeding in what will undoubtedly be a highly contested battle of some five teams to tally the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.