MANILA, Philippines—The Indiana Pacers have added the pieces that just might get them over the hump.
But apart from their off-season acquisitions in big man Luis Scola, shooter Chris Copeland and guard CJ Watson, the return of a healthy Danny Granger is just as vital for last season’s Eastern Conference finalists.
“It’s great, Danny (Granger) is another leader for us, he’s another playmaker, another shotmaker for us. You know he’s someone that we missed. He’s a guy that in his career averaged 20 points and has been an All-star so he takes a lot of pressure off myself, Roy (Hibbert), David (West) and George (Hill) and a lot of guys in this team,” said Pacers swingman Paul George, who has transcended into a star with Granger out, during Tuesday’s media availability at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The versatile forward-guard Granger missed all but five games including the Pacers’ playoff run last season where they were just a game away from the NBA Finals due to a patellar tendinosis in his left knee.
Fully-recovered, Granger finally stepped on the court last Saturday in a 76-82 loss to the Chicago Bulls in both teams’ first preseason game.
Granger scored six points, missing eight out of his 10 attempts, had two assists, a steal and two turnovers in a team-high 29 minutes.
“I thought he was good. He was a little bit out of sync with his game timing which is something that we knew. The month of October is what we view as final step in his recovery getting the game conditioning, game timing and all the winning habits that he has got to re-establish for the part of his game and he took a step towards that,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
For the 30-year-old Granger, preparation will always be crucial with the new season fast approaching.
“Mentally you have to prepare yourself from the grind. The season is a grind, it’s 82 games. We’re playing back-to-back games, we’re travelling to different timezones, we’re getting their at two ‘o clock in the morning we gotta play at night, you’re body’s hurting, you gotta get your rest, you gotta get your sleep so you have to physically prepare your mind to put yourself through all that because as hard as it is physically, it’s just as equally hard mentally,” said the 2009 Most Improved Player.
“You just prepare the right way, eat the right food, get some much sleep possible and go out there and just play basketball,” the one-time All-star added.
As for the Pacers game against the Houston Rockets this Thursday at the MOA Arena as part of the 2013 NBA Global Games schedule, Granger is expecting an exciting matchup.
“This will be fun. I like Dwight (Howard), Dwight’s a friend of mine. Obviously he’s a great player in our league. It’s a great acquisition for Houston you accompany him with James Harden and obviously Jeremy Lin and even that young kid Chandler Parsons, they have a good young core.”