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Pacers’ Depth Will Be Tested Early

By Wheat Hotchkiss |

The regular season begins on Wednesday night, and the Pacers’ depth will be tested right away this season.

Indiana announced Monday that starting point guard George Hill (knee contusion), starting power forward David West (sprained ankle) and backup point guard C.J. Watson (bruised foot) will all be out for the start of the season.

West will miss at least three games, putting him out for Opening Night, Friday’s game against Memphis, and Saturday’s contest against the Hawks in Atlanta. Hill is out at least three weeks, while Watson will miss at least two weeks.

Guard Rodney Stuckey, the frontrunner to start at shooting guard, is also dealing with a foot injury and his status for Wednesday’s opener remains unclear.

Those injuries, along with the preexisting injury to Paul George and the offseason departure of Lance Stephenson, mean that Roy Hibbert will be the only starter from last season in the lineup on Opening Night.

With West out for at least three games, Coach Vogel has said that Luis Scola will assume the starting position at power forward. Scola has plenty of experience — he’s started 412 of 550 career games. Lavoy Allen, another one-time starter in Philadelphia, can backup Scola. Chris Copeland is also capable of sliding over from small forward to power forward if needed.

Without Hill or Watson, third-string point guard Donald Sloan will likely assume a starting role. Sloan had an excellent preseason, averaging 13.3 points per game. But Sloan has just 12 career starts, one last season and 11 while with Cleveland in 2011-12.

Stuckey could also help out at the point, but if he can’t go Wednesday, Vogel would either have to play Sloan a full 48 minutes or play someone (likely C.J. Miles or Solomon Hill) out of position at the point for short stretches.

We’ll get a better feel for Stuckey’s status and how Vogel plans to adjust his rotation at Monday’s media availability. Stay tuned for further updates.

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A not-so-garden-variety, java-like blend of contributors bringing you the latest and greatest general Pacers news behind a veil of relative anonymity.

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