The Indiana Pacers will try to get their first win of the 2017 NBA playoffs tonight (7 p.m.) when they host Cleveland in Game 3 of their first-round series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
A lot of talk after Indiana’s two losses at Cleveland has been about comments made by Pacers’ forward Paul George, and the way he acted when the final buzzer sounded after a 109-108 loss in Game 1.
I agree with Tom Ley of Deadspin, who wrote a column about George. And I definitely agree with him and others who say the Pacers’ All-Star likely is positioning himself for a smooth transition to join the Lakers or Celtics.
My guess is Los Angeles. George is a Palmdale, Calif. native who played two seasons at Fresno State.
His on-court reaction immediately after the first game loss — after he passed the ball to C.J. Miles with time running out and Miles missed the potential game-winning shot — was terrible.
His comments after the game, including — “I’ve got to get the last shot. … In that situation, I need the ball. I talked to C.J. about it” — aren’t the words a coach or team wants or needs to hear from its ‘leader’ after a tough loss.
I think Charles Barkley was 100-percent correct in his assessment of the Game 1 situation on TNT. He didn’t like George’s on-court reaction or post-game comments, either.
Shaquille O’Neal thought all was OK, that George had done nothing wrong. I don’t agree.
For the record, Kenny Smith and ‘Inside the NBA‘ studio host Ernie Johnson agreed with the Chuckster, saying George was out of line.
Also for the record, Basketball-Reference.com indicates George has attempted 14 shots during his career that would have given the Pacers the lead in the final 20 seconds of a game.
He has made none. Zero. … 0-for-14.
That number kind of shoots the “I’ve got to get the last shot”-thing out of the water big time.
But it’s a new day, with Game 3 just hours away at The Fieldhouse (broadcast on TNT). And anyway, George said his comments were made simply to provide motivation.
“I said that only to motivate my teammates to win this series and win a championship,” he said during a press conference Wednesday.
“I didn’t say anything even close to throwing them under the bus. If I didn’t say nothing, it would have been another story.
“I didn’t lose no sleep over it, I never do. Sometimes players just say things differently than coaches.”
George has shot the ball well, making 19-of-30 shots overall and 10-of-18 3-pointers.
He had 29 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the 109-108 Game 1 loss, and followed that with a 32-point, 8-rebound, 7-assist performance in Game 2, won by the Cavs, 117-111.
As always, LeBron James is the main stumbling block for George and the Pacers. The 14-year veteran had 32 points, 13 assists and 6 rebounds in the series opener and rolled his way to 25 points, 10 boards, 7 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocked shots in Game 2.
But James isn’t the only Cavalier to cause problems for Indiana. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and dished 6 assists in Game 1, and tallied a game-high 37 points in Game 2. Center Kevin Love had 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Cavs’ second win.
Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse begins at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game can be seen on ABC TV.
Check out Tom Ley’s story from Deadspin.
I think Paul George hates his team
CLEVELAND — Paul George was great last night, scoring 32 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists in the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavs. After the game, he seemed very much like a man who is tired of toiling away on a middling team.
George spent most of his postgame press conference detailing all the things his team is doing wrong in the series — “We’re just doing a terrible job of getting back and guarding people” — and calling out specific teammates.
On Myles Turner: “He’s gotta know at this point we need him to take it to the next level, and we’ll continue to work with him. I’ve been in his ear, all the way up to this point of that next step and growth for him, but in this league you kind of have to find it.”
On Lance Stephenson: “He’s gotta learn to control himself. He’s gotta learn to just be in the moment … His body language has to improve.”
This is not a new thing for George, who has taken a few not-so-subtle shots at his teammates recently.
After a March 28 loss to the T-Wolves, he bemoaned his team’s lack of “professional approach” and complained that he didn’t get the ball enough down the stretch in that game.
After the Pacers’ Game 1 loss, George publicly chided C.J. Miles for not giving the ball back on the game’s final possession.
Being this openly hostile towards one’s teammates in the middle of the playoff series is not a very cool thing to do, but you can understand if George is feeling weary of his situation.
He’s been with the Pacers for seven seasons now and lived through some truly dysfunctional iterations of the squad.
Now he finds himself in the last year of his contract, in a playoff series he knows he can’t win, and having to deal with Lance Stephenson all over again.
You can’t say he’s checked out — he’s been one of the best players on the court in each of the first two games of the series — but a quick and merciful end to the series wouldn’t be the worst thing for him.
He’ll need some time to plan his move to Boston or Los Angeles, after all.
Mr. Pizza, Cambridge City
Please Patronize Locally-Owned Businesses In Connersville!