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Granger Injury A Blessing In Disguise

January 18, 2013 Comments off

Danny Granger, the Pacers leading scorer for the 2011-2012 season, has missed all 40 games this season. Credit: BleacherReport

Danny Granger, the Pacers leading scorer for the 2011-12 season, has missed all 40 games this season with a knee injury. (Photo Credit: BleacherReport)

Through the first 40 games of the 2012-13 NBA season, the Indiana Pacers are 24-16, sit third place in the Eastern Conference and boast the No. 1 scoring defense in the NBA.

They’ve done all this without their star small forward, Danny Granger.

Granger continues to rehab a knee injury that has caused him to miss the entire first half of the season. Granger has led the Pacers in scoring every year since the 2007-08 season, including a career high 25.8 points per game in the 2008-09 season.

Without Granger, the Pacers struggled mightily at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, posting a 10-11 record through their first 21 games. It was evident that they missed the 18.2 ppg that Granger brought to the table last season.

The team struggled to find an identity over that stretch.

How would the Pacers keep up in a offense-based league without their best scorer?

The answer was simple: defense.

The Pacers lead the NBA in scoring defense at 89.1 ppg, a full point ahead of the next best team and 5.3 ppg better than their average last season.

Not only do opponents not score, they don’t shoot the ball well. The Pacers also lead the NBA in opponent field goal percentage at 41.3 percent.

The lock-down defense can be accredited to a new team emphasis.

Defense first, scoring second.

In years past, the Pacers have put more of an emphasis on scoring, averaging more than 100 ppg in four of the last five seasons.

But in his first full season (82 games) as Pacers head coach, Frank Vogel has challenged his team to play tough, relentless defense, and it has worked. They have held teams under 90 points 20 times this season and held them under 80 points an astonishing eight times.

The Pacers have used the strong defensive performances to turn their season around, winning 14 of their last 19 games to move within three games of first place Miami in the East.

Offensively, the Pacers have used a balanced attack to counteract the loss of Granger. Three Pacers average more than 14 ppg with Paul George leading the team with 16.9 ppg.

This is where the Granger injury is really going to help the Pacers in the long run. The Pacers won’t have to rely on Granger to average 20+ points a night because of the reliability of George, David West and George Hill. If one player is having an off night, a teammate is going to be right there to pick up the slack. The drop-off in scoring won’t be as dramatic as it has been in previous seasons.

Vogel will also have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to drawing up plays. The versatility of the Pacers starting lineup will be like nothing we’ve seen since the days of Reggie Miller, Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest and Al Harrington.

The absence of Granger has not only improved the Pacers defense and balanced the scoring, it has allowed for bench players to get more playing time.

Lance Stephenson was thrust into the starting lineup and new addition Gerald Green has seen his fair share of minutes. The increased amount of court time has greatly improved the play of both players, who will be the go-to guys for the Pacers second rotation when Granger returns.

That rotation will consist of Stephenson, Green, D.J Augustin, Tyler Hansbrough and Ian Mahinmi. This is a bench that it going to keep you in ballgames. A bench that will match the play of other teams second rotations.

Granger’s return has been kept hush over the past several months and their isn’t an exact day for when Granger plans to return to the court but Vogel is optimistic that he’ll be back in time to be ready for the playoffs.

In an interview with Dan Dakich on 1070 The Fan, Vogel said that he hopes to have Granger back by early February.

“His knee is healing and right now they’re at the point where they are just trying to increase activity on a daily and weekly basis to make sure it can hold up to the wear and tear of the NBA season,” Vogel said.

A big concern for Pacer fans is that when Granger returns he will destroy the team’s chemistry. It will take time for the Pacers to get used to having Granger back in the lineup just like it took time for them to get used to having him out of the lineup. That’s why it is key for not only Granger, but the Pacers as a whole, that he returns with an ample amount of time before the playoffs.

Even if Granger were to push back his return into late February he would still have more than 20 games before the first round of the playoffs, which is plenty of time for the team to get used to having Granger back in the lineup.

It is important Granger buys into the defense-first strategy that has become the norm for the Pacers this season. If he does, this team is going to be a tough out for anyone come playoff time.

Granger’s injury has resulted in a defense first mentality, balanced scoring and a deep bench.

For those reasons, the Granger injury has been a blessing in disguise for the Pacers.

Breaking down “Linsanity”

February 17, 2012 Comments off

America has been taken by storm, and no I’m not talking weather. New York Knicks point guard, Jeremy Lin, has become a national icon in less than two weeks.

Lin, a Harvard graduate, has led the Knicks to seven straight victories and back to a .500 winning percentage on the season.

So how did the light bulb miraculously just switch on? Well, it could be in some part to team superstar Carmelo Anthony.

New York Knicks newest star Jeremy Lin shoots over Lakers center Andrew Bynum. Credit: forbes.com

Lin confirmed to ESPN’s “The Michael Kay Show” that Anthony told coach Mike D’Antoni to put him (Lin) in Feb. 4 game against the New Jersey Nets. Lin took full advantage of said opportunity.

Coming off the bench, Lin put up a game high 25 points and seven assists in a season high 36 minutes. Before this game Lin had only played double-digit minutes once in nine games. He failed to score double-digit points in any of those appearances.

In the Knicks next game against the Utah Jazz, Lin was named the starting point guard and hasn’t looked back since.  In the six games that Lin has started he has averaged 24.3 points and 9.5 assists. In that span, Lin included a 38-point game against Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers and a game winning three point shot against the Toronto Raptors.

Lin’s insane play has led to the coining of the term “Linsanity.”

The term has been trending on Twitter after multiple Lin performances and ESPN has been using the word to describe the craziness that is Jeremy Lin.

“Linsanity” has been heard in conversations from the classroom to the subway. It really has exploded into a national phenomenon.

With every feel-good story though there are going to be a few devil advocates.

“Linsanity” is overhyped, he’s just another Tim Tebow, and he’ll be a nobody in a month. These are just a few of the things being thrown out by the Lin haters.

The one that really irked me the wrong way was the comparison to Tim Tebow. Tebow was a highly sought after college prospect, won a Heisman trophy, and was a first round draft pick. Lin went undrafted, and was occupying the sixth point guard spot on the Houston Rockets depth chart in December.

There are really only two things that these guys have in common. They both bring great energy to their respected sports and they both know how to easily grab the attention of the media.  Well I guess you could include one more – they both are great at bounce passes.

You can thank Reddit for that one, but let’s be honest, it’s not fair to compare these two guys. Lin is a rag to riches story while Tebow is just a glorified cheerleader.

The Lin story is a great one for other athletes that are thinking about giving up on their dreams. Everyone is going to get a chance to shine, but one has to take advantage of that opportunity when it arises. If you aren’t putting in 110 percent into getting better than that chance might just pass bye.

The thought of Lin not making a difference on this Knicks team for the rest of the season is hard to fathom. He has rejuvenated a team that was seven games under .500. He has brought the energy back to a team that looked like it was sleeping on the court. He quite possibly could be the savior of the Knicks season.

The spotlight is back on the Knicks and this time it’s for all the right reasons. Lin has captured the attention of the nation with his underdog story and amazing play.

Only time will tell if “Linsanity” will continue but if he continues to play at such a high level, he is going to turn the whole nation into “Linatics.”

Pacers bounce back behind solid shooting effort

January 2, 2012 Comments off

Paul George led the Indiana Pacers with 21 points as they improved their record to 4-1 Monday night. Credit: AP/Photo Julie Cortez

After suffering their first loss of the season on Saturday, the Indiana Pacers used a balanced offensive attack and a good shooting performance to get back on the winning track.

The Pacers beat the struggling New Jersey Nets 108-94 Monday night to improve their record to 4-1 and away record to 2-1.

The Nets fell to 1-5 and have yet to record a victory at the Prudential Center.

The Pacers had failed to shoot above 40 percent in their first four games, but not Monday night as they shot a blistering 52.6 percent from the field and 61.9 percent from beyond the arc.

This was also the first time this season that the Pacers reached the 100 point milestone.

Paul George, who led the Pacers with 21 points, made all five three point baskets he attempted and shot 80 percent overall.

Other scores included Danny Granger with 15, David West with 13 and off the bench, Tyler Hansbrough with 12.

This was the first game all season that a Pacer did not record a double-double but that didn’t seem to affect the Pacers. They out-rebounded the Nets 42-40 and dished out 11 more assists than their opposition.

The Pacers led 48-42 at halftime and pulled away to a double-digit lead in the third quarter.

Unlike previous seasons, where the Pacers struggled to close out games, the Pacers shut the door on the Nets in the fourth quarter. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come as the Pacers seem to always be in close games.

The Nets were led by star Deron Williams who finished with 22 points and 8 assists. Rookie Marshon Brooks scored 21 points off the bench.

The Pacers continue their four game road trip on Wednesday when they face the Miami Heat at 7:30 p.m.

Pacers prevail in overtime to improve to 3-0

December 30, 2011 Comments off

Danny Granger shoots over Anderson Varejao. Granger led the Pacers with 22 points. Credit AP Photo/Michael Conroy

It wasn’t pretty but it’s the final score that counts. The Indiana Pacers improved to 3-0 for the first time in four years as they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91 in overtime.

The Pacers trailed the entire first half as they committed nine turnovers and shot 42.9 percent. The Cavs led 45-47 at halftime.

A different Pacers team came out after the halftime break as they went on a 10-2 early run and jumped out to a double-digit lead.

The game began to heat up midway through the quarter as Pacers head coach Frank Vogel and Cleveland center Anderson Varejao both picked up technical fouls and David West received a flagrant for pulling down Varejao during a layup.

The Pacers took a 70–61 lead into the fourth quarter and it looked like they might run away with it. That was far from the outcome as the Cavs fought back and took a two-point lead with :17 remaining after Anthony Parker hit a three-point basket.

David West tied the game with a running floater but rookie Kyrie Irving missed a game winning layup as time expired to send the game to overtime.

That is when Danny Granger took over, he scored nine of the Pacers’ 14 points in the period including a big three to put them up six with 1:29 remaining.

Granger led the Pacers with 22 points but it was a balanced offensive effort ending the Pacers’ night with a victory. Six players were in double figures by the end of the evening including George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough off the bench.

The Pacers bench outscored the Cavs bench 32 – 29, which was a key to the game as they came in leading the league in bench scoring.

Roy Hibbert recorded his third double-double of the season as he led the team with 13 rebounds while also scoring 17 points.

Irving, the first overall pick in last years draft, led the much improved Cavs with 20 points, but will be kicking himself after missing the chance to win it for his team.

The Pacers now embark on a four-game road trip with their next game Saturday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills as they take on the Detroit Pistons.

Granger leads Pacers to victory in Toronto

December 29, 2011 Comments off

Danny Granger led the Indiana Pacers in scoring with 21 points. Pacers tip off against the Cavaliers Friday at home. Credit: NBA.com

In game two of the Pacers’ season they defeated the Toronto Raptors 90-85 despite another disappointing shooting night.

The starting lineup all produced double-digit figures in points and two that finished with double-doubles that included point-guard Darren Collison and center Roy Hibbert.

Danny Granger led the team in scoring shooting 8-19 from the field and 21 points. Granger upped his scoring total despite another poor shooting night. Collison provided the Pacers with 12 assists while Hibbert added 10 rebounds. The team failed to reach above 40 percent shooting from the field Wednesday night in Toronto, but it was enough to put the team to 2-0 on the season.

The Raptors had two starters over 20 points and was 45 percent shooting as a team. Two teams matched similarly in stats after the game proved neither team had an edge in who would come the victor.

The Pacers’ first road game of the season was one of the more important steps to preparing for the playoffs.

“We treat it like a playoff game, quite frankly,” Head Coach Frank Vogel said. “We said in the pregame film session, if we’re going to be .500 or better on the road, we’ve got to come into these buildings and treat them like playoff games.”

Other scorers for the Pacers were David West with 14 points, Paul George added 18, Collison scored 10 and Hibbert finished with 12.

The Pacers will return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7 p.m.

Pacers defeat Pistons in season opener

December 27, 2011 Comments off

Danny Granger fists pumps after his first made basket of the game. The Pacers next game with be against the Toronto Raptors Thursday. Credit: Pacers.com

The Indiana Pacers started their season with a victory against the Detroit Pistons in front of a sold out arena of 18,165 at the new title of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

From a team with probable players in the lineup with new faces as well, the Indianapolis-based team routed the Pistons 91-79. The Pacers ended the night with three players with double-doubles including Roy Hibbert, sixth man Tyler Hansborough and David West.

In his Pacer debut David West scored 11 points and added 12 rebounds. Roy Hibbert in his fourth NBA season scored a tie for team-high 16 points with 14 rebounds. Tyler Hansborough came off the bench with 15 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes.

Team captain Danny Granger added to the Pacers’ total with 16 points on a 6-18 shooting night. The disappointment of missing shots wouldn’t phase the Pacers in the end who held the Pistons to 36 percent shooting.

Rebounding became the key as the home team collected 18 offensive rebounds added to their victory in total on the boards 53-40.

“We definitely could not have done that last year,” Granger said. “We have the ability to crash the boards. I think our big guys did an excellent job of dominating the glass, on the offensive end also. We didn’t give up too many offensive rebounds. When they can dominate the glass like that, it’s going to be hard to beat us.”

The victory marked the seventh straight home victory against the Pistons.

The Pacers will take on the Toronto Raptors Thursday at 6 p.m.

NBA on the brink of losing season

November 14, 2011 1 comment

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Assistant Commissioner Adam Silver react to the players rejection of latest deal. Credit:lancelivre.blogspot.com

The NBA players rejected the league’s latest offer on Monday; all but assuring that there will be no NBA season this year.

NBA Commissioner David Stern was irate when he heard the news.

“It looks like the 2011-12 season is really in jeopardy,” Stern said. “It’s just a big charade. To do it now, the union is ratcheting up I guess to see if they can scare the NBA owners or something. That’s not happening.”

The players have begun the process of disbanding the union and will file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The players could win several billion dollars in triple damages in the antitrust lawsuit.

Union executive director Billy Hunter says that it’s the best possible way for the players to get what they want.

Union President Derek Fisher, surrounded by dozens of players, said that the decision was unanimous that “this is the best decision for the players.”

The players understand the potential consequences from their actions today and know that losing the entire is a big possibility now. That given, the players aren’t ready to back down and give in to a deal that they believe is unfair.

The deal that the players rejected Monday would have brought an even 50-50 split in revenue sharing and a soft salary cap. If agreed upon, a 72-game season would have started on Dec. 15.

The players weren’t happy with how many restrictions there were for big spending teams that would limit their free agent options.

Stern has gone on record saying that if that deal was not agreed upon then the next proposal would be a 53-47 split, favoring the owners, and a flex cap with a hard ceiling. The players would surely shoot down this deal, which is much worse than any previous ones.

Today was the breaking point on whether or not we were going to see professional basketball this year.

This offer was better than any the players are going to see from here on out. And now that the players are going to court it’s going to make things even more complicated.

The players have said that they are still open to negotiating but there really isn’t much left to negotiate. The league isn’t going to back down from its offer and with the players rejecting the last deal it’s obvious they don’t want anything to do with what the league is offering.

The NBA lockout reached day 137 on Monday and it doesn’t look like any end is in sight. Every day that passes with no deal the chances of a NBA season decrease.

Right now all signs point to a canceled season.

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