Now we’re entering into that territory where you can’t say “it’s just this many games into the season.” You have to look at your team and think there’s only this many games left, therefore, they need to make the most out of each game. Even in a loss, if guys are improving, you can take something from it. The Pacers are positioned right there in third in the Eastern Conference with a game against the second place New York Knicks. Win that game, and the Pacers move even closer to second place. I think that’s where they should land after all is said and done. They are in control of the division with a soft lead, but with a 2 game edge on the Bulls in the divisional series. That’s key if these teams happen to pull even at the end.
The rest of this month could be a test for the team as they get the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at the end of the month. The good thing is those games are at home, where the Pacers have been better than usual. They did lose those two games back to back, but even then that was overtime games, and the Pacers had late leads in the games. That Clippers one should be an athletic test for the team. If Danny Granger is back around for that, that will be a great way to see what he’s got. He’s one of the players to watch, as I will give you the three guys to keep an eye on now.
No doubt all eyes are on Granger once he comes back. It was looking like tomorrow night would be his debut, but now that’s being held off. So hopefully Granger can come back on Friday night against the Detroit Pistons. Going against a not good Pistons team could help build up the stamina Granger will need. He’ll probably go a few games starting off the bench, and then I would imagine he’ll go back to the starters. It will take some games to get his feet under him as he’s a slow starter. But with the success Paul George has shown and the ability of David West, that might be okay. Granger should be able to perform at a good level for this team, and could really open the offense up.
Can Roy Hibbert get any offensive game going CONSISTENTLY? That’s going to be the most important thing for Hibbert. He can’t put up 18 points one game and 7 the game after. If he can stay in that 12-15 point range and grab 10 rebounds each game the rest of the way, this Pacers team will be so much better for it. He’ll continue his defensive presence, which could garner some votes for the defensive team at the end of the year. If he can continue the block party he’s established, guys won’t be driving into that lane as much. It’s going to take a fresh mind for Hibbert to get his offense going, and I’m looking at the after the All-Star break as a fresh start for Hibbert on that end.
Paul George will be looked upon as the improved player he’s become. He might defer to Granger to get him going, but I imagine now that Granger has seen what George has been doing, it might be vice versa. George could work against some of the smaller shooting guards, and hopefully establish himself on the block in post situations. He’ll hopefully continue his impressive three point shooting as he’s really built up that part of his game. I look for him to continue to be aggressive as he’s become. This is a great time for him to get some notice as up and coming player, possibly super star type.