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Danny Granger: Indiana Pacers Won't Surpass Chicago Bulls Without Their Star

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24:  Danny Granger #33 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 24, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.The Heat defeated the Pacers 105-93 to win the series. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIApril 25, 2016

In some ways the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls are in the same predicament. Neither team can reach its ultimate goal without its injured star.

The Bulls are better equipped to absorb Derrick Rose's absence than the Pacers are set up to cope without Danny Granger—at least in the regular season.

USA Today reports that Granger will be out three months with patellar tendinosis in his left knee. 

Obviously, Danny Granger isn't better, or even equal to Derrick Rose, but the Pacers will desperately miss his scoring. The Bulls' defense, rebounding, depth and versatility are enough to keep them atop the Central Division through the regular season. 

They won't be exposed as a non-contender without Rose until the postseason rolls around. They proved they could succeed in the regular season without their star last year. Between the 27 games Rose missed in 2011-12 and the four he's missed thus far this season, the Bulls are 22-9 without him in the regular season.

That is a .709 winning percentage, and that pace will still win them the Central Division.

The Pacers won't be as fortunate without Granger.

They have stumbled out of the gate with a 3-5 record, and they are struggling mightily to find ways to take up the scoring slack. Granger averaged 18.7 points per game for the Pacers last season, and we're seeing how much the team is missing his impact on the offensive end.

They lead the league in rebounding, and they are only allowing 93.2 points per game. The problem becomes apparent when you look at the fact that they are scoring just 90 points per game. That's 27th in the NBA and a direct reflection of Granger's absence.

When you compare the Pacers to the Bulls, the team composition is very similar. David West is slightly outplaying Carlos Boozer this season. West is scoring 17.8 points per game, while Boozer is scoring 13.3. He also has a slight edge on Boozer on the glass.

Overall, it comes out to something of a wash at the power forward position.

Paul George is doing his best Luol Deng impersonation. He leads the NBA in minutes played, and he's been a stat-sheet stuffer early on. He leads the team in rebounds (9.8) and steals (1.6).

The issue for the Pacers is at the center position.

Roy Hibbert is the man that should be producing a higher scoring output, but he isn't. He's scoring just 8.8 points per game, and the team needs more from him.

Joakim Noah has stepped up in Rose's absence. He's actually leading the team in scoring at 16 points-per-game. Where's Hibbert?

Indiana isn't getting what it needs from Gerald Green either. The Pacers' exciting free-agent signing was starting, but he's been relegated to a reserve role now. He is also scoring just 8.8 points per game.

The Pacers' key secondary players aren't stepping up to fill the void.

Expect the Pacers to hover around .500 while Granger is out. If he returns after the All-Star break maybe the team can put something together down the stretch. However, you have to worry about rust and chemistry at that point.

Meanwhile, the Bulls will have likely pulled seven games or more ahead of them. It sounds like another second or third place finish in the division for the Pacers this year.

 

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