Danny Granger’s battle to return to the court has hit a bit of roadblock, as he will reportedly miss the first three weeks of the season to rest and rehabilitate his strained left calf. Granger missed all but five games last season with a knee problem, and he picked up the calf injury in preseason.
The Indiana Pacers have high hopes for this season, and many observers (myself included) believe they have the best chance of any team in the East to dethrone the Miami Heat. The Pacers went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and pushed the Heat to seven games, and they improved themselves over the summer. The return of Granger has been the key storyline all offseason for the Pacers, as they try to find the best way to work their former superstar into their highly successful rotation.
Granger’s absence for the first three weeks will slow that process, but this is not going to present any major issue for the Pacers. First of all, they were a 49 win team last season without Granger, and Paul George and Roy Hibbert seem poised for career years this season. The offseason additions of Luis Scola, Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson have strengthened the bench, and the Pacers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
The Pacers play the Chicago Bulls twice during the first three weeks, as well as the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks once each. The Pacers stack up favorably against their fellow Eastern Conference contenders on paper, and if they can have some success without Granger then they should feel very good about their chances this season.
Even if they struggle without Granger (which is highly unlikely), the Pacers are in this for the long haul. They are focused on getting themselves set up for the playoffs and having a chance to make a run at a championship. If that means sitting Granger until they are absolutely positive that he is 100% healthy, then so be it. The Pacers are focused on the end game, and they are making the right decision when it comes to resting Granger.
The Pacers won’t miss him at the start of this season, but a healthy Granger will be a huge boost for the team later. No need to worry about this injury, and there is no reason to lower expectations for the Pacers.