Just a mere two days after the Pacers got completely embarrassed at home to the Washington Wizards, losing 118-104 in a game in which the team completely lacked rebounding and a consistent scoring effort, they will be without one of their top rebounders and top scorers Sunday night against the Nuggets.
It had been announced earlier in the day that Hill (personal reasons) and Mahinmi (sore left heel) would be absent for tonight's matchup in Denver. This is bad news for the Pacers as Mahinmi is Indiana's second-leading rebounder, averaging 7.2 boards per game. The absence of Mahinmi could be a significant blow for the Pacers due to the fact that the Nuggets are the ninth-best rebounding team in the NBA with 44.7 rebounds per contest. Myles Turner is excpected to start in Mahinmi's absence tonight.
Not having George Hill into the lineup means that rookie Joe Young will see an increase in minutes tonight versus the Nuggets. Young hasn't had many opportunities to see the court this season, having only appeared in 15 games for the Pacers thus far this season, and has seen some time in the Pacers' D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The good news is that through three games Young played for the Mad ants, he averaged 24.3 points per game as well as 2.0 assists, so the potential is definitely there for Young to be a viable option for the Pacers when Hill is unable to play.
The Pacers (22-18) currently sit at sixth-place in the Eastern Conference standings and will need to prove that the younger players are able to step up and fill the voids that are left in the roster from not having a few of the veterans suiting up to keep the Pacers in playoff contention. With guard Rodney Stuckey out for the next two weeks with a right ankle sprain, it will be a daunting task for the young bucks of this team to effectively carry the workload for an extended amount of time if needed, but certainly not impossible.