Caris LeVert is expected to miss 10-14 days due to health and safety protocols, beginning with tonight’s play-in game against the Charlotte Hornets, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania. If LeVert is out for 10 days and the Pacers somehow manage to scrape past the Hornets with a shorthanded roster, this means the team would also be without the slippery playmaker for the second game of the play-in tournament as well as (long shot!) the start of the playoffs.
Basketball obviously comes second to LeVert’s overall health and well-being, but his absence also couldn’t come at a worse time for a team that is already down by at least two starters — especially against an opponent that is among the league’s leaders in switch-rate on ball screens, which has oftentimes stymied Indiana’s offense. Over the last 10 games, LeVert had sharpened his efficiency in isolation, while also putting up averages of 21.9 points and 7.3 assists on 45 percent shooting. Without him, given that Malcolm Brogdon is also listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, Indiana will be sorely lacking in perimeter shot-creation and playmaking, aside from T.J. McConnell.
With Myles Turner (torn plantar plate) and T.J. Warren (foot) both out, it was already a given that the Pacers weren’t going to be fully healthy for the “postseason,” but it’s a tough blow for yet another starter to go down at this juncture, when the Pacers made it the whole season suffering the fewest days in health and safety protocols this season, per Fansure.
Brogdon, meanwhile, is expected to be a game-time decision after going through some 1-on-1 contract yesterday; however, even if he’s cleared, he won’t have played in an actual game since the end of April. Granted, his presence will still represent an upgrade for a depleted backcourt, but rust looms as yet another potential obstacle.
When a center is on the floor, Charlotte has avoided switching against Domantas Sabonis on off-ball screens, only doubling when playing small. If that trend continues, he’ll have to dominate the inside match-up 1-on-1, while also carrying a lot of the load as a facilitator, as he has for the last month, whether from the perimeter or the post.
Either way, it’s a tough break for LeVert, who spent the last month rounding into form after undergoing surgery to treat cancer, as well as the team, who spent the season ravaged by injuries.