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Dunleavy Hopes to Contribute to Playoff Run

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

March 18, 2011

( Getty Images)

At the time of Mike Dunleavy's injury, it didn't really seem like a game-changer for the Pacers.

They were, after all, deeper at the wing positions than anywhere else on the roster, so there was no shortage of candidates to fill the void.

As it has turned out, however, the Pacers have felt the pain of Dunleavy's absence.

Today marks the four-week point in Dunleavy's recovery from a broken thumb, original forecast as six-to-eight weeks. If it's six, he'll be back for the final two weeks of the regular season. If it's eight, that means waiting until the playoffs, assuming the team qualifies.

"It's just been tough watching in general," Dunleavy said. "I like being out there and this is the best chance I've ever had to make the playoffs and I'd like to be able to contribute. It is a bit agonizing but it is what it is and hopefully I'll be back soon."

In his ninth season, Dunleavy is still waiting for his first playoff experience. He'd like to be back before the postseason but knows he cannot rush the healing process.

"Time is of the essence right now, just waiting for the thing to heal," he said. "I'm going to go back to the doctor in 10 days for another X-ray and update and we'll see what he says.

"I think they're pleased with how I'm doing. The good news is I'm able to stay in shape and keep my legs underneath me so hopefully once I am cleared I'll be able to jump right back into the mix."

In the 13 games Dunleavy has missed, the Pacers have gone 4-9 and the offense has struggled mightily, averaging 97.9 points on 42.9 percent shooting overall and 31.1 percent from the 3-point line. Assists have been way down, to 16.7 per game, in the absence of perhaps the team's best passer.

Interim coach Frank Vogel isn't pointing to Dunleavy's injury as a primary reason for those issues.

"I think it's more a statement on we've been playing better defenses," he said, "and that's slowed us down a little bit."

Credit Vogel for refusing the excuse. But there's no doubt the Pacers have missed Dunleavy – almost as much as he has missed playing.