Paul George is continuing his evolution into an NBA superstar as he put up 24 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Brooklyn Nets 96-91, keeping the Pacers undefeated at 7-0 overall and moving the Nets down to 2-4 overall.
The Pacers are clearly looking to get back to, and past, the NBA Finals after falling one game short against the Miami Heat, and George has continued to thrive as the main threat on both sides of the ball for the Pacers. They appear to have the best shot and the best opportunity at upsetting the back-to-back championship winning Heat.
George was not the only problem for the Nets, however, as three other Pacers scored in double digits. Power forward David West finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while center Roy Hibbert finished third with 15 points and a whopping 11 rebounds and two blocks, giving the Pacers something that even the Miami Heat have yet to find: a dominating big man in the paint to grab rebounds and serve as a defensive presence. Shooting guard Lance Stephenson also put up 15 points and doled out seven assists.
Four of the Nets’ starters also managed to score in double figures, with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each leading the pack with 17, while Brook Lopez followed with 16 and Paul Pierce with 15. Kevin Garnett finished the night with only six points, but grabbed eight rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Despite this, the Pacers’ starting five remains one of the best in the Eastern Conference, and has a roster built for the long haul and the ability to compete for an extended period of time, unlike the Nets who have elite yet aging pieces in Pierce and Garnett, who many question just how much good basketball these future Hall of Famers have left. With the Pacers, the question will remain if their head coach Frank Vogel can reach that next level, and if their point guard play will ultimately hold them back in the long haul, as George Hill currently holds down the fort at the position.
But despite that, thanks to their fast 7-0 start, the Pacers are off to their best start in franchise history, and for a team looking for home-court advantage in the NBA playoffs, this is a pretty good way to start off the season.