Just when it seemed like the Indiana Pacers were back to full strength and ready for a deep play-off run, Danny Granger was lost for the rest of the campaign due to knee surgery. It could spell doom for the team who look best equipped to challenge Miami’s supremacy in the Eastern Conference.
But it’s worth remembering the All Star only featured in five games this season but the Pacers are still 46-27. They possess the best defence in the league, conceding just 89.5 points per night.
Granger, however, would have added an X-factor to a team that is 3-10 when opponents do break through and score 100 points or more. His absence means that while Indiana are still 10.00 second favourites in the East, the race to be the presumed fodder for Miami is now much more open.
The Pacers should have few concerns on Saturday night when they visit the sorry Phoenix Suns, who have lost five in a row and seem to be counting down the days until their summer vacation begins. With Indiana terrific at forcing their foes into poor shooting, it spells meltdown for the Suns.
No Metta World Peace. Probably no Kobe Bryant. A hobbled Steve Nash. And a Pau Gasol who looks a shadow of his normal self. These are tough times for the Los Angeles Lakers, whose momentum has stalled due to injuries, threatening their play-off place.
The Lakers have won just one of their last five games and go to Sacramento tonight needing a boost with victory over the Kings. However, their Californian rivals have produced an unexpected late season surge, winning six of their last ten with DeMarcus Cousins resurgent. Their scoring average has soared up to over 110 points over the last three weeks. LA’s tough four-game road trip ends here and there may not be any joy to take home.
Best bet: Take Indiana on the handicap to beat Phoenix