The Indiana Pacers have been the best team in the NBA for much of the 2013-14 regular season up to this point. Their defense has stayed consistent with previous seasons in being one of the premier units in the league, but they’ve also improved a great deal offensively, largely due to a re-vamped bench and the continued development of star forward Paul George.
Indiana recently made yet another move that could keep them atop the Eastern Conference and possibly carry them past the Miami Heat when the postseason rolls around. With the addition of center Andrew Bynum to play behind Roy Hibbert, their frontline is now one of the most physically demanding and talented groups in the NBA.
However, one of the things that’s been crazy about the Pacers’ run throughout this season is they’ve done so with the return of former star forward Danny Granger having little-to-no effect on their success.
Granger returned towards the end of December and had played in 21 games leading up to Monday night’s matchup with the struggling Orlando Magic. Playing 22 minutes per game over that time, Granger has averaged an insignificant 8.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game while hitting only 35.2 percent from the floor and only 31 percent from long-range.
Granger had his best night of the year against the Magic, though. Granger led all Pacers with 16 points on 5-9 shooting from the floor and 3-5 shooting from deep, also contributing four boards and three dimes to the winning effort as well.
Getting Granger back in the rotations was supposed to be a key cog in the Pacers’ system this year, providing them with an offensive flurry off of the bench on a near-nightly basis. That hasn’t been the case, though, yet the Pacers have still been able to become better offensively.
What will be interesting moving forward is to see if Granger can get in a groove and start providing performances like the one from Monday against Orlando regularly, the Pacers could become clear favorites in the East as opposed to “team-that-could-possibly-upend-the-Heat.”