When the Indiana Pacers were defeated in last year’s NBA playoffs the majority of fans believed it was the lack of bench depth that put them out of the postseason. In 2013 the bench has played a vital role in the teams 32-21 record in a season without their star in Danny Granger.
On the night that Granger was supposed to return but encountered some flu-like symptoms, the Pacers were surprised in a different manner. Tyler Hansbrough got his first start since 2010-11 on Thursday night and exploded for 19 points tying his season-high. David West remains the Pacers number one guy at Power Forward, but experience from players like Hansbrough will only make them a more well-rounded team.
Like the Chicago Bulls the Pacers have been forced to design an offense that no longer surrounds their franchise player. Surely there will be some growing pains once he does return as this Pacers team has clicked the entire season.
Paul George was the player who shouldered the biggest load with Granger out as he finished off the first half with his first career triple-double. Frank Vogel will have to decide what to do with Granger and George as they need to be on the floor at the same time if they have any hopes of challenging the seemingly unbeatable Miami Heat.
Bench players like Gerald Green will also be huge factors moving forward as they need someone else to emerge off of the bench aside from Hansbrough. Although Lance Stevenson has played well in 2013 averaging 8.4 points per game he will likely be moved to a back-up role with Granger coming back which will benefit Vogel’s bench as a whole.