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Danny Granger to make return for Pacers Saturday night

Feb 23, 2013, 12:23 PM EDT

Danny Granger AP

We are about to see one of the two returns that could make the Eastern Conference playoffs more interesting.

Danny Granger is expected to make his season debut for the Indiana Pacers Saturday night against the Pistons, reports Mike Wells of the Indy Star. Granger has missed the entire season with a knee injury and his return was expected this weekend.

Without Granger the Pacers are 34-21, currently the second seed in the East. They have the league’s best defense but an offense ranked 21st in the league.

Granger, the Pacers leading scorer at 18.7 points a game last season, can help change that. He is not the most efficient scorer (he shot just 41.6 percent last season) but he can space the floor and knock down threes (38.1 percent clip last year) and if he can learn to co-exist with the newly emerged All-Star Paul George the Pacers will now have a couple of players who can create their own shot, break down defenses and put the ball in the basket.

Indiana showed last year they have no fear of the Heat (they were up 2-1 in that series and forced the Heat to adjust their game) and they have a defense that can keep Miami’s stars in as much check as anyone. The Pacers can attack the Heat with size, one vulnerability teams want to go after.

Ultimately, Indiana will need the Roy Hibbert of last season to show up (it’s not been his best season, to be kind) to have a real chance. But in an East where we are trying to see who will break out of the pack and really try to challenge the Heat for conference supremacy, the Pacers may be the best call. Chicago, when it gets Derrick Rose back and the Knicks if they can get their defense back, are in the mix. But before the season I saw the Pacers as the second best team in the East and now that may finally be coming together.

  1. jimeejohnson - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Maybe next time the Knicks play the Pacers, J.R. Smith’s Mom and sister can help them.

  2. money2long - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    it’s hard for me to look at the pacers and consider them serious, serious threats to win a title because more times than not roy hibbert plays inconsistent basketball. if roy hibbert was a force game in and game out, who wouldn’t look at the pacers like bonafide contenders? if hibbert came out each time and guaranteed the pacers 10 boards, 2 blocks and any kind of double figure scoring, (and energy) they would be a problem. too often, he is in foul trouble, disappears on offense and lets paul george out rebound him.

    if roy was a consistent force, the pacers would be legit. since he isn’t, there’s that voice in your head that says, ehh.

  3. jjordannba - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Sorry Danny Granger, but since you’ve been gone the Pacers have realized they have a new franchise player. Paul George, he’s just a way more dangerous matchup then you are. Nothing wron with being second in command though.

    • saint1997 - Feb 24, 2013 at 1:01 AM

      they should just trade him for Tyreke or Eric Gordon. Paul is better at the 3 and they need help offensively that Danny can’t provide next to Paul

  4. llindy86 - Feb 23, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Pacers are without a doubt a legitimate threat. I would be surprised if it didn’t come down to a Pacers/Heat Conference Final, probably going 7 games. The Pacers can beat the Heat and as long as they can hold Wade in check (Lebron’s gonna get his) they’ll win. Too much front court depth and matchup nightmares for Miami.

  5. fruitcovejag - Feb 23, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    The Gunner is coming back! They couldn’t get anything for this guy at the trade deadline? Paul George was flourishing in his absence. I predict 20 points, but he’ll shoot 35% and take 20 shots to get them.

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