Premature Praise of Indiana Pacers’ Paul George Hurting Playoff Hopes
Since the calendar turned to 2014, Paul George has not been the player he was in the beginning part of the season. Bad shooting, alleged pregnancies with a stripper and leaked selfies were just a few dark clouds over George in 2014.
George came out swinging this season for the Indiana Pacers, and many people thought he was a legitimate MVP candidate after the first quarter of the season. George blossomed last season as he was voted to his first NBA All-Star game. After a having stellar output in the 2013 NBA playoffs, it appeared that George was in line to be the NBA’s next big star.
Many basketball experts praised George calling him the next Tracy McGrady, and some even stated that he was the third best small forward behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The outside expectations placed on George put a damper on his game. George’s post All-Star game stats were worse than his stats in during the early stretch of the season. Since February, George is averaging 21.1. PPG and is shooting a shade over 40 percent from the field. George’s struggles have come in untimely fashion as the Pacers are in desperate territory in the playoffs.
The Pacers are facing a 3-1 deficit against the defending champion Miami Heat, and they will need George to play at a higher level. Superstars tend to rise to the occasion, but in George’s case he was placed on that pedestal before it was actually a real thing. George had a solid 18 months of basketball that led to that assumption, and now he is seeing what it is like to have a franchise on his shoulders.
It doesn’t help that Roy Hibbert has morphed into Jon Koncak during some games, but when you are the “best” player on the team you have to deliver. If the Pacers lose the series the window is closing as a team. This season was the year for them to surpass the Heat. With Lance Stephenson entering free agency and other teams in the East improving, the Pacers may have a different outlook for the next few seasons.
The Pacers got what they wanted, and they are not living up to the challenge. They fought hard for the No.1 seed in the East, and they are facing the Heat team that they thought they could defeat with a home-court advantage. The series still has a little life in it, but the Pacers need a superstar performance from George. The problem with that is George isn’t a superstar, and they are facing a team with the best player in the world. Though George isn’t a superstar, he is still a quality player. He has to master his own game before being in conversation with the best players in today’s NBA.