Capitals

Pacers could be without Granger for 3 months

Pacers could be without Granger for 3 months

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana needs to find a long-term replacement for Danny Granger.

Team officials announced Wednesday that the one-time All-Star forward is expected to miss up to three months after receiving an injection in his left knee to treat patellar tendinosis.

Losing Granger for an extended period is a big blow for a team that entered this season hoping to contend for an Eastern Conference title. He was the Pacers' top scorer last season (18.7 points) and is typically their first option in late-game situations, too.

All the Pacers can do now is move on.

``We still have a heck of a team,'' coach Frank Vogel said before Saturday night's home opener. ``We've still got a great deal of talent, a great deal of depth. So my hopes are very high that we'll excel without Danny.''

Granger originally hurt the knee during May's playoff run. Vogel said the soreness dissipated for a while, then returned while Granger was working out during the offseason.

In September, Granger said he underwent blood-platelet treatment, which he described as a painful experience that could take months to fully heal.

``It hurts,'' Granger said in mid-October. ``They take the blood out and inject it back in, so it hurts. But it helps you heal tremendously.''

Apparently, Granger hasn't reaped those benefits yet. He has not played in any of Indiana's first four regular season games, though he did make one preseason appearance. At Cleveland, on Oct. 23, Granger scored nine points in 13 minutes.

Without him, things haven't always gone smoothly.

The Pacers (2-2) are averaging 20.3 turnovers a game, a number Vogel has already acknowledged needs to be cut significantly.

Vogel is also trying to figure out lineups and rotations without Granger. Gerald Green, signed as a free agent in the offseason, started the first three games. He's scoring 9.8 points and grabbing 4.3 rebounds, but giving up 2.5 turnovers per game. On Monday night at San Antonio, Sam Young moved into the starting lineup and finished with three points and three rebounds in a 101-79 loss.

Granger's absence has been more notable in the closing moments of games.

Indiana looked out of sync in the final minute last Friday at Charlotte and couldn't take advantage of several chances to win at lowly Charlotte. Instead, they wound up losing 90-89 - the Bobcats' first win in 24 games. The next night, against Sacramento, Indiana missed two shots at the end of regulation and two more at the end of the first overtime before finally getting past Sacramento 106-98 in double overtime.

Even opponents have noticed a difference.

``Maybe if you have him (Granger) he closes that (Charlotte) game out,'' Kings coach Keith Smart said. ``Not having your go-to guy can change a lot of things.''

But instead of building this team around a superstar, the Pacers decided to reinforce their bench. They're hoping that will take them go deeper into the playoffs than last season's second-round exit against Miami.

That decision could serve them well now.

David West, Paul George and George Hill are all scoring in double figures. All-Star center Roy Hibbert is averaging 8.8 points 7.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. And Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson have given the Pacers good minutes off the bench.

So Vogel remains optimistic.

Granger has averaged 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in seven NBA seasons.

Quick Links

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

las_vegas-sign-no_caps-stanley_cup_final.jpg
Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS: