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Granger slowly re-entering Pacers Lineup

The Indiana Pacers are slowly opening a lead in the NBA Central division over the defending division champion Chicago Bulls, but the Milwaukee Bucks are lurking in third place and could make a move down the stretch.

The Pacers have won 7 of their past 10 games and now lead the division by 3 games over the Bulls and 7 games over the Bucks. As the season winds its way towards the playoffs, the Pacers are pleased to have their top scorer from last season, Danny Granger back from a knee injury that saw him miss over 50 games to start the season.

The Pacers have only a little more than a quarter of the regular season left, have won 10 of their past 13 games overall and have a record of 24-6 at home after Thursday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Leading the way for the Pacers is Paul George who has become the team’s star and was chosen to his first All Star game this season.

With everything headed in the right direction including one of the league’s toughest defenses, it has not been easy for Granger to re-enter and fit in after such a long period on the sidelines. Granger, prior to this season, was the leading scorer for the Pacers for five seasons and a big leader both on the court and off for the team.

However, he now feels like a stranger in his own home. Granger prior to a week ago had not played for Indiana since their second round playoff matchup last season versus the Miami Heat.

In the few games since his return, he has seen very few minutes, averaging less than 20 minutes per game and has been hurt by the adjustments he has had to make to the pace of the game, the flow, the changes Indiana made to their offense because of his absence and rust.

This week he said he was still very rusty as playing in practice against teammates is not like playing against an opponent in a real time game.
Granger said he was only about 65% of where he needs to be. He said part of rehabbing was to practice a great deal while working himself into game shape, but at this point in the season, the team does not practice all that often. Therefore, games have become his rehabbing and that has made the transition to playing again even harder.

Last week was a good example of how far he still needs to come to be the force he once was. Against Detroit Granger played about 18 minutes and hit one of his 10 shots. He followed that with 18 minutes versus Golden State and hit 1 of 7 shots. Nevertheless, the Pacers won the two games, which at the end of the day is the most important part.

One very good part of Granger’s slow entrance into the Indiana system all over again, is it had not affected George’s play. The All-Star is not trying to one-up Granger and has made no negative comments about Granger’s return.

Granger also says he will not do anything to change the team’s rhythm. He says everyone knows his role and he has become just another piece of the puzzle.

The idea is to help the team in any way possible so they can win the division and maintain at least second place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. It looks as though he is seamlessly working his way back into the lineup, now all he has to do his become more productive.

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