Has Mike Dunleavy's game returned?
Eight games into Dunleavy's return from what was essentially a year-long absence due to injury, there are some promising signs that a best-case scenario is emerging. The Pacers can once again rely on Mike Dunleavy.
No he doesn't have full clearance to play, still being monitored on a 24-minute playing limit, so to say Dunleavy is all the way back from injury would be premature. But after his performance in back-to-back wins this past weekend, I think it's safe to say that Dunleavy's game is back.
The first sign was Friday night when he used his 21 minutes of PT to score 15 points on 10 FGAs which included splashing all three 3-point attempts. But it wasn't just the numbers.
Twice Dunleavy took a pass around the top of the arc after moving from the left wing. He caught the ball in rhythm, had his legs under him and shot it in rhythm. Oh, and the ball went in the hoop. Picture perfect play and shot. After seeing the second one go in, I raised my eyebrows, thinking maybe Dun was onto something.
So then we move to Saturday night. Back-to-back road game after playing over 20 minutes? No problem. Dunleavy continued shooting it well, in fact, he didn't miss a shot in the first half. But, again, the movement, the legs, the stroke - all looked perfect, as did the result.
Dunleavy finished the night with 24 points on just 7 FGA, making 4 of 6 3-balls and all 10 of his free throws. Include the made midcourt shot at the end of the first quarter and the two stone-cold free throws to win the game at the end of regulation and it all adds up to good news for Pacer fans.
Mike Dunleavy's game is back, even if he isn't fully back as a player. Hopefully that knee will holdup so the player can take full advantage of the game he has to offer.