LeVert Getting Close to Return
The Indiana Pacers begin the second half of the NBA season with a 16-19 record, which has them just outside of the playoff standings in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana is in second place in the Central Division, but it trails the Milwaukee Bucks by six games.
It will likely take a big second half of the season for Indiana to sneak into the playoff field, but its chances could get better with the return of Caris LeVert. LeVert was acquired as part of the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn, but he has yet to suit up for the Pacers.
The Pacers are currently getting ready to embark on a three-game road trip, and LeVert could potentially be available before the team returns home. During a physical exam following the trade, it was revealed that LeVert had a mass on his kidney, and he has been getting that taken care of by team doctors.
At the time of the discovery, LeVert acknowledged that the trade might have potentially saved his life. He praised team doctors for discovering the mass and has since undergone surgery and treatment for renal cell carcinoma.
Head coach Nate Bjorken told the media that LeVert has resumed practicing with the team, but it’s unclear when he will be ready for game action. Indiana could use the scoring that LeVert provides, and it will give the team some additional depth as well.
LeVert was averaging 18.5 points and six assists per game for the Brooklyn Nets prior to the trade. The Pacers have struggled since trading away Victor Oladipo in that same deal, but LeVert will provide much of what is missing with the absence of the former star.
Sabonis Shines in Skills Competition
Indiana Pacers fans already know how talented Domantas Sabonis is, but his talents were on full display at All-Star Weekend in Atlanta on Sunday. Sabonis won the 2021 NBA Skills Challenge, showing off his dribbling, passing, and shooting skills.
Sabonis was hoping that this event would be in Indianapolis, but instead, it was forced to take part in Atlanta. He finished as the runner-up in this event in 2020 to Bam Adebayo but was clearly motivated to bring home the title this time around.
Point guards Luka Doncic and Chris Paul were given byes in this event, forcing the four big men to take part in the first round. Sabonis was able to eliminate Julius Randle of the New York Knicks to advance to the semifinals, where he defeated Doncic.
In the finals, Sabonis took on Robert Covington of the Portland Trail Blazers, who was the only non-All Star to compete in this competition. Both Sabonis and Covington struggled to make shots in the final event, but it was the Pacers star that made the decisive shot.
Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers competed in the NBA Dunk Contest, which took place during halftime of the actual game. Stanley failed to reach the finals in that event, and Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trail Blazers came away as the champion.
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