Indiana Pacers hope to build on recent success
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers, a team with high expectations, stumbled out of the gate in the 2012-13 season.
But they went from looking like they would be on life support without standout forward Danny Granger in the lineup to closing out 2012 on a tear.
The Pacers (18-13) ended the year by winning eight of their final 10 games.
And like any other coach, Frank Vogel said his team has a lot of work ahead of it to reach its potential.
The Pacers are anything but a fine-tuned machine.
They’ll take the court tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Washington Wizards for their first game in 2013. Before that, though, here’s a look at things that need to happen in the new year for the Pacers:
1. Get Granger back in the lineup.
It’s ludicrous to think the Pacers need to trade Granger now that Paul George has finally taken off.
Every elite team has multiple players who can take over a game.
The Pacers need that, too.
Granger’s presence on the court will help open up things for the other four players.
He’s a regular at games and practices and is walking around fine. But of course, walking is nowhere near the level of having to jump, cut, run and stop hard on the left knee.
Vogel recently said Granger is progressing on schedule, and the Pacers still hope he’ll be back this month or in early February.
A healthy Granger likely means a Central Division title and home court in the first round of the playoffs.
2. Roy Hibbert gets going offensively.
It’s obvious that the pressure of Hibbert’s new $58 million contract has played a significant factor in his offensive play this season.
That — and dealing with a right wrist problem — is the only way to explain that a 7-2 center who plays predominantly in the paint is shooting 39.5 percent from the field, which is last in the league among centers.
Hibbert’s work ethic has never been questioned. He’s always willing to put in the extra time.
Now it’s time for the offensive results to start showing up in the box score.
Hibbert has been the anchor in the paint defensively for … [For more on Indiana Pacers hope to build on recent success, click here.]