Danny Granger out tonight for Pacers, why that's not a good thing for Boston

According to CSNNE's Greg Dickerson, Pacers forward Danny Granger has re-aggrevated his knee injury, and will miss tonight's game against the Celtics.

In past seasons, this would be a huge break for the C's. After all, from 2007-12 (5 seasons) Granger averaged an impressive 21.6 points a game for Indiana, serving as their best overall player, and one of the best scorers in the league. Unfortunately for the Celtics, that Granger is gone (at least for this year), and the Pacers have learned to not only survive - but thrive - in his absence.

Granger was shut down in training camp with 'significant patellar tendonitis' in his left knee, and did not make his season debut until February 23rd. With Granger out, Indiana began leaning on 3rd year forward Paul George more this season, and George has responded by playing at an All-Star level. The 22 year old George is among the NBA's leaders in minutes played (37.9 per game), and is averaging career highs in points (17.6), rebounds (7.9), assists (4.0), steals (1.6), and PER (17.2). Not only has George adequately filled Granger's role as scorer, but he is one of the best defensive forwards in the league - which has made Indiana a better team.

While George has taken over for Granger as the teams best overall player, the Pacers still had hope that the latter could return and provide a spark as the team's sixth man. But in his first five games back - Granger struggled to do much of anything, averaging 5.4 points per game (on 28% shooting) in 14.8 minutes. Those are numbers easily matched by Indiana's 3rd string wing, old friend Gerald Green.

What I'm trying to get at is that while it seems like a boost to the C's chances that Granger is out, it actually could make Indiana tougher. The Pacers have found an identity as a tough, defensive minded team that runs their offense through George and David West. While a healthy Granger would certainly make them more dangerous come playoff time, the injured version we've seen this season is only holding them back.

Expect tonight to be one of the Celtics toughest games of the season, as Indiana is absolutely lights out at home (25-6 record, 5th best in the NBA behind only Miami, Denver, San Antonio and Oklahoma City), and has played great of late (12-3 in their past 15 games). With that said, the Celtics are also playing their best ball of the season (12-4 since Rajon Rondo went down), so expect a close, low scoring game that comes down to the final minutes.

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