Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) gets hit in the head by Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (3) during a scramble for a loose ball in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Miami defeated Indiana 87-83. George’s status remains uncertain for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference today. (USA TODAY Sports: Brian Spurlock)
The Indiana Pacers have enough to worry about against the Miami Heat without trying to figure out how to replace an All-Star. The Pacers hope to have forward Paul George available when they visit the Heat for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday.
The game can be seen on at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.
George was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a knee to the head on Tuesday and will need to pass NBA-mandated tests before he is eligible to return to action.
George is off to a rough start offensively in the series after being held to 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting in Game 2 but is a key part of the defensive effort against LeBron James.
George remained in the game after catching Dwyane Wade’s knee on the back of his head but later said he “blacked out” following the hit and was diagnosed with the concussion on Wednesday morning due to the brief loss of consciousness. Any deterioration in the skills of George is a bad sign for the Pacers, who allowed James and Wade to combine for 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Heat came from behind to take Game 2 and even the series.
James and Wade put their stamp on the series in the fourth quarter of Game 2, scoring or assisting on every point scored and never panicking when Miami got down. After allowing the Pacers to go off at 51.5 percent from the field in Game 1, the Heat pushed that number down to 40 percent in Game 2. That defense gave James and Wade enough time to find their groove when the fourth quarter rolled around.
“However the game presents itself, I just try to take advantage,” James told reporters. “I needed to do something in the fourth. I was able to get some good looks for guys in the third quarter but I needed to make a few buckets in the fourth quarter and I was able to come through for us.”
Indiana put together its best offensive performance of the postseason in dominating Game 1, leading wire-to-wire en route to a 107-96 victory. The Pacers led for most of the contest in Game 2 but had a much more difficult time scoring and ended up dropping an 87-83 decision
“It’s a split,” coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “We’ll respond. We’ll look at the tape, make our adjustments and come back for Game 3.”
George has three full days off to go through the concussion protocol, which includes physical exertion on a stationary bike, jogging, agility work and non-contact team drills, each of which must be completed symptom-free before moving onto the next.
1. The Heat have won the last four meetings in their building, going back to the 2013 East finals.
2. Pacers G Lance Stephenson is averaging 21 points on 62.1 percent shooting, 7.5 assists and five rebounds in the series.
3. Indiana is 5-0 in the postseason following a loss.
PREDICTION: Heat 92, Pacers 90