Danny Granger is ready to return to the court for the Indiana Pacers. The forward will suit up when they face the Houston Rockets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday, and head coach Frank Vogel said at Thursday's practice that he'd play 15-20 minutes per game, via the Pacers' official Twitter account.
This will be the first regular season action for Granger since his ill-fated five-game comeback attempt last February following a knee injury. Granger played in the preseason this year before suffering a calf strain that has kept him sidelined for about two months.
If you watched the Pacers in the preseason, you saw some inconsistency from the former All-Star. He shot just 32 percent from the field overall, but seemed to be finding his rhythm when he started against the Chicago Bulls before he aggravated the calf strain. It'd be wise to expect a similar sort of pattern here. He'll have to get up to game speed.
Vogel on Granger's return: "There's no way to simulate game intensity. There's going to be an adjustment period while he gets used to that."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 19, 2013
Granger's role will be significantly different than it was two years ago. Back then he was the star and Paul George was on the opposite wing, acting as a glue guy. Now George is a superstar and Granger will be asked to fill in the gaps. The two have repeatedly said that won't be a problem, and everyone in Indiana is eager to see how it will work. George wants to get things started, via Scott Agness of Pacers.com:
PG: "It’s been long-awaited. To answer all the ‘Can Paul George and Danny Granger play together.’ I think it’s time to move beyond that."— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 19, 2013
It surely helps that Granger is returning to a team that is sitting atop the Eastern Conference at 20-5. If it takes some time for his teammates to get accustomed to his presence, the Pacers should easily be able to deal with it. For this group, it's more about how he'll affect the team a few months from now. Granger isn't putting too much pressure on himself, via Agness:
Granger: "It’s not a thing where I have to rush (back) or do this or do that. As long as I’m ready by the playoffs, I’ll be fine."— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 19, 2013
There's also a chance it's seamless and he makes Indiana better immediately. That, well … that's just scary.