Caught in the Web: Granger to Start, Play Regular Minutes

by Jeff Tzucker

Conrad Brunner Caught in the Web banner headline

Granger to Start, Play Regular Minutes

by Conrad Brunner

May 24, 2012

Danny Granger will start and Coach Frank Vogel plans to give the Pacers' leading scorer his usual dose of minutes while keeping a close eye on his effectiveness as Indiana faces elimination tonight in Game 6 against the Heat.

Granger sprained his left ankle when he stepped on LeBron James foot in the first half of Miami's 115-83 blowout win in Game 5 Tuesday. Granger sat out most of the second half, Wednesday's practice and most of Thursday's morning shootaround.

"Danny's going to go," Vogel said today. "He's still obviously very sore but he's going to go.

"We'll see how he's moving out there. He thinks he's going to be OK and not limited but he's very sore so we'll see how he is."

The Pacers' leading scorer during the regular season (18.7), postseason (17.2) and in this Eastern Conference semifinal series (13.0), Granger represents the team's greatest perimeter threat. He has made 10 of 19 (.526) from the 3-point line in the last three games, while the rest of the team has gone a combined 11 of 38 (.289).

Granger said he the injury would cause him to sit out a regular-season game but with the Pacers trailing 3-2 and facing elimination, he will be in uniform.

"This game's too important so that's pretty much it. I'm playing," he said. "With an ankle sprain you're always limited. The good thing about a game is adrenaline kicks in. I'll take some pain-killers and hopefully my mind will kind of forget about it. That's the gameplan."

If Granger cannot play effectively, the Pacers most likely would turn to Dahntay Jones and/or Leandro Barbosa to absorb his minutes.

Pacers Hope to Exploit Shorthanded Heat

Suspensions to Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman for flagrant fouls committed in Game 5 have left Miami severely shorthanded in the frontcourt. Already missing Chris Bosh, who strained an abdominal muscle in the first half of Game 1 and hasn't played since, the Heat are left with Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony up front. Eddy Curry could be activated for additional depth.

"This entire season has been a no-excuse season," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We're a no-excuse team. We have enough. There's no doubt about it, we feel we have enough to win this game tonight and that's our mentality coming into it. We know it will be a tough challenge. It will be a great environment in here; I know our players are looking forward to it. But we understand the opportunity we have to close this thing out.

"We've been doing this all year. We've had guys in and out of the lineup and we've played guys at different positions. Our versatility we think is one of our greatest strengths."

The Pacers anticipate a heavy dose of Shane Battier and LeBron James at power forward, an exploitable mismatch for David West.

While Pittman has been a non-factor in the series, Haslem has come on strong, racking up 24 points and 10 rebounds while making 10 of 12 shots in the last two games.

"I think Haslem being out really hurts them more than people realize," Granger said. "In Game 4 he mad a lot of big shots for them down the stretch. Now they'll be pretty much small the whole game and we have to use it to our advantage. When they started Battier on David West he got in foul trouble and we couldn't take advantage of it but this time we expect to be able to take advantage of it with our post players."

Spoelstra Accuses Pacers of Multiple Head Shots

In response to the suspensions of Haslem and Pittman, Spoelstra accused the Pacers of taking multiple head shots at both James and Dwyane Wade in their nine meetings, including four during the regular season.

"The league does not have a problem with hard fouls on our two main guys," Spoelstra said. "In nine games now there's been over a dozen hard fouls to the face, some of the tomahawk variety, some of them have drawn blood.

"They don't have a problem with it so we don't have a problem with it. Our guys will continue to attack. They'll play their game and we'll focus on what we can control tonight, and that's the game."

Vogel took exception to Spoelstra's claim.

In no way, shape or form have I ever suggested we hit anyone in the head -- ever," he said. "And I would argue that we hit them in the head 12 times."

James said he wasn't aware of any unusual number of head shots from the Pacers but James, who was cut over the eye when on the receiving end of a flagrant foul from Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5, said he has "felt 'em."

"No doubt I felt 'em," he said, "but I'm going to keep going and maybe by the end of the series it'll be 16."

There have been four flagrant fouls in the series (three by the Heat) and five technical fouls (four by the Pacers). Given the ramping up of hostilities in Game 5 and the importance of tonight's game, there could be concern about the potential for escalation but neither coach so expressed.

"Nobody can hide from this fact: this game and this series will be decided between those four lines and within the guidelines of the NBA rules," Spoelstra said. "There's been a lot of noise out there, there's been a lot of chatter, there's been a lot of distractions and everybody seems to have an opinion about it. Our guys only want to focus on the game and so his comments are irrelevant to what we're trying to get done tonight."

"We're all interested in playing basketball," Vogel said. "We're not interested in anything else, anything more than that. What happened happened. That's not the way the game's meant to be played. We're just interested in playing hard, physical, clean basketball. I think that's what both teams are interested in doing."

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