The road back to the hardwood has been long, swollen, and cramped for Danny Granger, but if all the reports from the Indiana Pacers are to be believed, it appears his return is finally nearing a reality.
News from the Pacers organization was basically non-existent up until about two weeks ago when Granger started practicing and participating in contact drills. Before their matchup with the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, they ran a segment that said Granger had won a one-on-one matchup at practice that day (if it was against Rasual Butler then that doesn’t count). They mentioned he has no swelling or pain.
So, Granger should be coming back against the Miami Heat? I would like to think that, but head coach Frank Vogel told reporters that Granger still had a ways to go before he would be cleared, despite Granger telling the same sources that he was ready to play now.
The Pacers 18-2 record indicates his immediate return isn’t as necessary as many believed before the beginning of this season, but now would be a perfect time.
When Granger returns it’s likely he would come off the bench as the Pacers sixth man just to ease him back into the game. This benefits the Pacers greatly as currently their bench ranks 26th in points per game (24.0). Granger would provide that spark off the bench that Orlando Johnson currently can’t. It would also give Luis Scola and C.J. Watson another veteran to play with and it could help limit Paul George’s minutes.
At some point Granger will likely return to the starting lineup, even though Lance Stephenson has shown that leaving him alone without the starters is not a good idea. Granger would contribute greater as the Pacers’ version of Manu Ginobili. But Granger’s return should be the final piece of the puzzle that sends the Pacers to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, a rematch with the Heat in the Conference Finals, and their first Finals appearance since 2000. Now let’s just hope he comes back on his timetable and not Vogel’s.