Mike Dunleavy will not play for the Indiana Pacers in their season opening game at Detroit. When he will play remains up in the air. Maybe the home opener on Saturday, maybe not.
As a key cog in the Pacers attack, Dun's absence puts a damper on the promising start of the season. The unkonwns about the extent of the injury and the potential return date threaten to check any expectations that may be rising a little too high.
On a positive note, if there is a time to handle a nagging injury it is now. Hopefully, Dun won't return until he is good and ready to play consistently. The 82-game regular season is a marathon. I'd much rather Dun and the Pacers finish strong instead of starting fast.
Besides, those first 20 games are brutal, so even with a healthy Dunleavy the Ws will be hard to come by. I was hoping the newly motivated upstart Pacers could surprise a few of the elite teams on the early schedule who may be easing their way into the grind with thoughts of playing into June. If the Pacers could sneak away with more wins than anticipated before mid-December, say 8 of the first 20, the season could develop into something special.
Without Dunleavy, the task of swiping a few big Ws becomes more challenging. But if the alternative is possibly winning those games but playing with an 80% Dunleavy for half of the year, then I'd rather give up a couple of wins early to make sure Dunleavy is fully healthy before hitting the court.
So now the question is posed to Marquis Daniels and Brandon Rush: Whatcha got?