There’s never a good time to have injury issues in the NBA. The 82-game marathon over 170 days shows little mercy on teams dealing with players out, especially ones without great depth.
The Indiana Pacers like to purport themselves as a deep team, but injuries are starting to take their toll on the team.
The latest injury occurred when reserve forward and defensive specialist Sam Young sprained his left ankle in practice earlier this week. Pacers trainers have labeled it a grade-two sprain and have ruled him out for at least two weeks. Not exactly the best timing for Indiana. He missed Friday night’s loss against the Boston Celtics, where coach Frank Vogel could have used him off the bench to guard Paul Pierce. With match-ups versus LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony looming next week, Vogel is without his second-best wing defender to throw at the league’s elite forwards.
It’s also bad timing for Young. He signed a non-guaranteed contract to start the season, which becomes fully guaranteed on January 7th. The injury could force the Pacers to cut ties with him instead of keeping him on for the remainder of the season.
Indiana has also missed starting point guard George Hill over the last three games. He is recovering from a right thigh contusion suffered in a home win against the Phoenix Suns over a week ago. Hill played the next night in Atlanta, but has missed every game since. D.J. Augustin has filled in admirably as starter, but despite winning two of three games, the Pacers look like a far worse team without Hill in the lineup. While he may not be a natural point guard, Hill does enough good things to not get his team beat. He also can get buckets in bunches when he has it clicking, something a team with the second worst offense in the league desperately needs.
Add Young and Hill’s health issues to Danny Granger missing the entire season thus far with a knee issue and Roy Hibbert’s regression due mostly to a bum right wrist and it’s almost a miracle the Pacers are tied for the lead in the Central Division. It will be interesting to see the type of team Indiana can be when everyone is truly healthy, but given the grind of the NBA schedule we may not have a chance to see it this season.