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Danny Granger to play 15-20 minutes in season debut Friday

Dec 19, 2013, 8:33 PM EST

Indiana Pacers' Danny Granger attempts a lay up against Houston Rockets' Terrence Jones in the second quarter of their NBA pre-season basketball game in Taipei Arena Reuters

The Pacers had targeted Friday’s nationally televised home contest against the Rockets for Danny Granger to make his season debut, and a week of practice has him on schedule to do just that.

Indiana confirmed on Thursday that Granger will be back in the lineup versus Houston, but the team will be easing him in slowly by playing him in the 15-20 minute range.

From Scott Agness of Pacers.com:

Pacers coach Frank Vogel confirmed on Thursday after a light practice that Granger, who’s been sidelined with a strained left calf since Oct. 18, will make his season debut against the Houston Rockets Friday night. Though he is has no medical restriction, they’ll keep him to 15-20 minutes to start out.

“There’s no way to simulate the game intensity, game adrenaline so I’m sure that’ll feel differently for him and there’s going to be an adjustment period while he gets used to that again,” Vogel said. …

After practice, which followed a 97-94 loss in Miami, Vogel had some reserves run through plays with Granger at both wing positions for about 30 minutes. Most of the plays ended with the ball in Granger’s hand for a shot.

Granger will play the backup wing spot, taking the 17 or so minutes per game being allotted to Rasual Butler in the previous three games.

The timing couldn’t be better for the Pacers to get some help, with three of the team’s five losses on the season coming in the last 11 days.

The hope is that Granger can provide reliable scoring as a reserve to the point where there isn’t a huge drop-off when Paul George heads to the bench. We haven’t seen him play consistent minutes in a very long time, however — remember, Granger missed all but five games last season due to injury, but was pretty good as a starter the season before when he averaged 18.7 points per game.

How well Granger adjusts to coming off the bench and how well he meshes with a team that’s done just fine without him recently will go a long way in determining both the success of the Pacers this season, as well as whether or not Granger finishes the year on the roster. If there are signs his game isn’t a fit for what the team has morphed into while he was sidelined, Indiana could very well dangle him (and his expiring $14 million contract) before the Feb. 20 trade deadline passes.

  1. davidly - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    We’ll see. Scola could use some more consistent help. Unfortunately for my Pacers, while they may present matchup issues for their prospective playoff hump three-out-of-seven games (or 13 or so quarters out of 28), their starters haven’t demonstrated a consistent one-two-three punch to the gut on the offensive end–the likes of Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka or Wade, James, Allen.

    A defense as good as Indiana’s should be able to take advantage of the open court, even if they grind it out the rest of the time. They’ve shown signs; and then they’ve shown signs of need. I hope Granger’s return pumps enough life into the offense that the starters are able to improve in this regard.

    I love George, but he ain’t no LBJ and he ain’t no Kevin Durant. Those guys are pernicious beasts. If PG is gonna hang with them production-wise–in the way that wins those few extra games–he needs a few more easy baskets in transition. The confidence that comes from that could improve the team as a whole, I think.

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