The Indiana Pacers are set to resume their season on Saturday, Aug. 1, with a matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately, they won't have All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis when they take the court. He's been sidelined because of plantar fasciitis, and his foot is apparently bad enough that he won't even be able to remain in the Disney World bubble.
Early on Friday evening, the team announced that his "availability to return to the campus in Orlando is yet to be determined." Sabonis is leaving to go see a specialist, and the damage to his foot is "significant," according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Pacers are 39-26 heading into the restart and are tied with the Sixers for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Their odds of holding off Philadelphia for the five seed, or even jumping up past the Miami Heat into fourth, take a serious hit without Sabonis. He's been arguably their best player this season and boasts a net rating differential of plus-4.9 points per 100 possessions. That's the best mark of any rotation player for Indiana.
Sabonis was averaging a double-double this season at 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game -- fifth in the league -- and his effort and energy in the paint is pretty much irreplaceable. He's also quietly been an important facilitator for them without Victor Oladipo for much of the season, dishing out a career-high five assists per game. In short, this is a tremendous loss.
According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, Sabonis' absence would lower the Pacers' chances of winning the East by almost three percent, and their odds of winning the title by nearly two percent.
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The irony for the Pacers is that in a bit of surprising news, they were expected to get Oladipo back for the restart after he initially said he wasn't going to play. Now, instead of having their team at full strength, they've ended up just swapping one All-Star for another.