Granger to Return ‘Sometime’ on West Coast Swing
The Pacers are hopeful to see No. 33 back in uniform sometime during this four-game road trip they are about to embark on. Danny Granger missed the first 55 games because of an ongoing left knee injury. After a brief five-game return, he hasn’t suited up in the last 11 contests.
With only 11 games remaining, Granger’s games to return are numbered this season. Already absent in over 92 percent of games this year, he can’t afford any kind of setback. Nor can the team. Whenever he returns – which could come as soon as Wednesday in Houston – this is it for him.
“I think so,” Vogel agreed. “If he re-injures it or it flares up really bad again, then you got to look at some alternatives. I don’t want to use the term ‘shutting him down,’ but you’re at that time. We’re definitely hoping that we don’t have any setbacks.”
Granger experienced above-average soreness during his short return and felt uneasy after taking a shot attempt in the second quarter against Chicago back on March 3rd. That’s the last time he participated in game action.
Indiana’s training staff works with and evaluates him every day. Though no new damage to his left knee was found, he was instructed to rest while continuing to receive treatment for two weeks. Since, he’s ramped up his activity day-by-day to the point where he is back practicing with the team.
He looked very good at practice on Tuesday, according to a source that observed. But whether he can play is completely dependent on how the knee responds.
Granger continues to decline all media requests.
As the Pacers head out on a four-game trip against all Western Conference teams, Vogel expects to have Granger back on the court at some point.
“We’re hopeful that he gets on the court on this trip,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be Wednesday night, but it could be. Could be Thursday, I don’t know.
“Some of the games are going to be his rehab assignments. It’s not like we can wait and let him have five or six practices under his belt. The games are going to be those. We got to manage it the way we did before, probably like 15 to 20 minutes. Get him in, hope he establishes a rhythm as quickly as possible.”
For Granger, Vogel said in addition to his knee, it’s all about the big three: Rhythm, timing, conditioning.
Should Granger return and produce on a consistent basis, Vogel will give thought to re-inserting the teams’ leading-scorer in the past five seasons back into the starting lineup. Because it’s so late in the season and chemistry is absolutely critical, that however, seems unlikely.
“We’ll see how it goes,” said Vogel. “If he comes back in the next two weeks and is our best scorer, then yeah, you have to put him back in the starting lineup, probably. Or not. Or you use him as a bench scorer.”
The bench was an area of weakness last season, which was addressed in the offseason but remains a question mark. There have been strong individual performances when a guy has gone down, but they need collectively strong performances from the reserves.
Other Injury Updates
Granger’s isn’t the only one of concern for the Pacers.
David West has missed five-straight games with a lower back strain. He was held out of practice Tuesday, but he did choose to take part in post-practice one-on-one work with Lance Stephenson, Gerald Green and Orlando Johnson. The media was able to watch at this point. He looked just fine taking pressure and elbows to his back.
George Hill (left groin strain) and Lance Stephenson (right hip-flexor strain) were also absent from Monday’s win over Atlanta. Hill did not practice but the feeling is that he’ll try to play in Houston. Like Granger and West, he’s officially day-to-day. Stephenson went through practice and most likely will be available.
“Everybody is dealing with injuries,” Vogel said, after providing updates on each player. “Top to bottom, every team in the league is dealing with something to this magnitude this time of year.”
The Pacers (44-27) are a half-game in front of New York in the East. Seven of their remaining 11 regular-season games are on the road.