Well just as I was stating yesterday all hands were needed on deck, the Pacers will end up losing a set of them. Now the news comes out that Danny Granger will have surgery and miss the rest of this season. This is probably a good thing for the Pacers as now they can fully prepare for life without him. I would have loved to have him back for the playoffs, but now that’s not going to happen. I don’t think it really changes life that much for the team as they’ve been playing without him all this season anyways. Sure he came back for five games, but we didn’t see THE Danny Granger that we expected, therefore, he might as well sat on the shelf until he was fully healed.
What this really means is Paul George can fully embrace the role of Next Man Up. He’s going to be called upon as an offensive and defensive force. If things aren’t working offensively like last night in Houston, then step up on defense and lock down on the best player. If there was a time that the Pacers could use that “superstar” George looks to be capable of doing that. Guess who’s going to go one on one with Lebron James come playoff time if the Pacers and Heat meet up, Paul George. Guess who could be asked to step up and hit a late three to tie or win the game, Paul George. Is he ready for that, I think yes as he’s been doing that this season. I still point back to that game in Chicago, where he put up 30some points after the scoreless effort against Golden State. That was a sign to me that George is ready for this moment.
Who else needs to step up? How about Roy Hibbert? Did you catch his performance last night? 28 points on the night. Is that enough points for fans to see that Hibbert is showing his offensive side? I think asking him to get 15 or more points now would be the better plea. Originally, I was in the 10-15 range. But the Pacers will need all the scoring they can handle. So if Hibbert gets 15 or more points in the playoffs, and even gets a couple of games like last night, this team could be in really really good shape. I hate to keep bringing up the Heat aspect, but a big presence in the middle could really work against them. Therefore Hibbert might be asked to do more there.
David West needs to be as solid as ever now. He might need to be around that double double range for the rest of the year. He’s such a great player already, and if he can get healthy soon, this team gets back to what was working so well. The Bench is going to need to continue their sudden emergence, especially as Tyler Hansbrough and Gerald Green move back there. Those two guys have been quite excellent in their starting roles, but once the full time starters get all back together, the bench needs to get it’s act together. Now’s the time the Pacers have to just move ahead, and realize Granger isn’t back. He can lead on the bench, and really be there for them. He’s got the voice to do that. But the team needs to step up on the court and get to where they should be.