Pacers’ Paul George cleared of concussion for Game 3
May 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Paul George will play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat barring unforeseen complications Saturday, according to a statement released by the team.
George suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of Game 2, but has been symptom-free after undergoing the NBA’s Return-to-Participation Exertion Protocol over the past three days. In consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the NBA’s Director of Concussion Management, the Pacers medical staff cleared George on Friday to “return to normal basketball activity,” according to the release.
George will participate in Saturday’s shoot-around at 11 a.m. ET and, barring any complications during it, will play.
George declared himself “ready to go” at practice Friday afternoon, but coach Frank Vogel said George’s return would be a game-time decision.
“We’re hopeful that he’ll be able to play, but he has not cleared all the protocols to be cleared to play. He’s symptom-free, but obviously you’ve got to go through all the testing and all that stuff to be cleared,” Vogel said. “He has not been cleared yet.”
Apparently, George cleared the final tests after practice.
George met with the media for the first time Friday since declaring that he “blacked out” after colliding with Dwyane Wade while diving on the floor for a loose ball. George took two shots to the back of his head and remained on the court for several moments.
However, since the next-day concussion diagnosis, George said that he has been symptom-free for more than 48 hours while engaging in the league’s mandated return-to-participation protocol.
“Just going through all the stuff that I need to go through to get cleared,” George said. “Battling through that. I’m just trying to stay sharp at the same time. It’s been a rough two days, but I’ve been able to rest a little bit.”
The process to be cleared includes completing a series of activities, then being tested. The process begins with light work, such as riding a stationary bike, and elevates to non-contact team drills. George had not practiced with teammates, instead putting up shots while wearing a red half-jersey similar to a star quarterback during training camp.
“They’ve been calling me Peyton (Manning),” George joked about how his teammates have reacted to his non-contact clothing. “That’s perfect. I’ll wear this until the end of the year.”
Last year, when George Hill sustained a concussion and missed Game 5 of the semifinal round, he did not pass the tests to even participate in the morning shoot-around. The Pacers lost that night to the Knicks and Hill, who returned to help close out New York in Game 6, later complained that the physical activities wore him down.
That will not be an issue for George.
George’s return is a significant boost for the Pacers with the Eastern Conference finals tied at 1-1. He has carried a heavy load for the Pacers through the playoffs, averaging a team-high 21.5 points and 41.3 minutes. George has also drawn the assignment of defending four-time MVP LeBron James. While some sets have paired Lance Stephenson on James, the results have not been successful. Stephenson earned a $5,000 flopping fine for one play in which he tried to defend James.
The Pacers led 73-69 after his three-pointer with 7:19 remaining in Game 2. But he collided with Wade at the 6:52 mark and the Heat out-scored the Pacers 18-10 the rest of the way to even the series. George made 3-of-4 free throws and had a turnover following the collision.
“We’ll miss him a ton,” Vogel said, responding to the prospects of not having George on defense. “Certainly he’s one of the best wing defenders in the game, and anybody (who) loses one of their best players, it’s going to hurt them. But we’ve got guys who can step up, and our whole team will.”