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Hectic November magnifies Pacers' injury woes

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A storm is brewing and reinforcements are probably needed to weather it.

Joe Robbins

For the Pacers, there is simply no rest for the weary. Paul George is expected to miss the entire season (open tibia-fibula fractures). George Hill's prognosis is three weeks (left knee contusion). C.J. Watson will likely watch from the bench for two weeks (sore right foot). David West has missed three games and counting (sprained right ankle), and it is probably safe to assume that Rodney Stuckey may soon be joining some of his fellow teammates on the sideline (sore foot). As if enduring the absence of five of arguably the team's top six players is not bad enough, the Pacers' November schedule is here to kick them while their down.

Following the completion of Friday and Saturday's games against the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks, the Pacers completed the first leg of a brutal stretch of three consecutive back-to-backs:

As the top seeded team in the Eastern Conference last season, the Blue-and-Gold struggled mightily in games with 0 days rest, posting a dicey win percentage of just .500 (10-10). Mind you, that was posted by a team that, for the most part, had its health. By Tuesday, the Pacers, down by five bodies, will begin what ESPN's Tom Haberstroh calls a dreaded "4-in-5" (four games in five nights). Due to the now lengthier All-Star break, teams are necessarily having to jam a higher number of games into less available space. Consequently, in a little over a week's time, Indiana will have played seven games in 10 nights. Which, in turn, means that those players that are actually listed as "active" will probably be less active due to sleep deprivation.

Next, take into account that several of the Pacers currently being asked to carry more of the load bared little to none of last season's 82-game burden. Donald Sloan has transformed overnight from C.J. Watson's understudy to a starting point guard. Chris Copeland has moved from the end of the bench to first man up, and Solomon Hill has traded-in his gently used Fort Wayne Mad Ants uniform for a spot in the Pacers' starting line-up. All combined, Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, and Solomon Hill played 883 minutes during the 2013-14 season. After competing in just three regular season games thus far, the three-some has already racked-up 272 minutes, nearly a third of last season's total. Somewhat inexperienced, it begs to question just how conditioned, let alone prepared, the injury-riddled Pacers are for the task ahead of them.

In the coming month, Indiana will play a total of four back-to-backs:

Though only seven of the Blue-and-Gold's 14 total games in the month of November come against 2013-14 playoff teams, several of the team's upcoming opponents have quite obviously either improved or gained experience (i.e. Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, etc.). Meanwhile, the Pacers have declined.

A storm is coming, and reinforcements are likely needed to weather it. Adding a 16th player, preferably a guard, via the hardship exception may only serve as a short-term band-aid for Indiana's widespread problems, but attempting to stem the bleeding may indeed be necessary in order to better safeguard the long-term durability of the remaining members of the team.