David West, who has missed the past two games for the Indiana Pacers due to a bad back, will likely sit out the next two contests as well, per Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star.
Indiana had their way with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic without West, but will surely miss the power forward if he were to sit out both Friday and Saturday, as the Pacers play two playoff-bound teams in the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls.
Despite Paul George’s breakout season for the Pacers, West has been the team’s most valuable player this year. He’s a main cog on both ends of the floor and it shows through any type of metric you choose to look at. The Pacers outscore their opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions when West is on the floor, according to NBA.com.
West’s ability to be a facilitator around the free throw line is an important factor in Indiana’s offense. The Pacers are already a below-average offensive team with West, but become even worse when his play-making skills are absent from the lineup.
Expect to see Tyler Hansbrough take West’s spot in the starting five as he has in the other two games. Hansbrough played well in both, averaging 16 points and 12.5 rebounds. However, both the Cavaliers and Magic are young teams headed for the draft lottery and didn’t put up much of a fight against the second-place Pacers.
The Pacers will obviously hope to get West healthy as soon as possible, as they are still battling for playoff position behind the Miami Heat. But they’ll need him healthy come playoff time if they expect to make any kind of run.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry