INDIANAPOLIS – The site of it is a little rare when it comes to 94 feet of hardwood.
Dribbling and shooting on the far end of the practice court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Paul George donned a red mesh jersey over his typical No. 24 blue Pacers practice one during Thursday’s workout. It’s a sight usually reserved for a football field, when quarterbacks wear them to signal the other players never to engage in full contact.
“Never seen Paul in a red jersey,” said guard Lance Stephenson of a fashion statement that’s traditionally part of a football practice uniform.
While it was different, it was actually quite fitting considering George’s injury and his importance to the Pacers’ hopes for the NBA Championship moving forward. On Thursday George did little during practice as he wore the “Do Not Hit” jersey at practice. He continues to recover from a concussion suffered in a Game 2 loss to the Heat.
It wasn’t until after the game when George commented that he had “blacked out” when Dwyane Wade’s knee hit him in the head going for a loose ball in the fourth quarter that tests were finally run on George Wednesday, which revealed the concussion and sent the forward through the NBA’s concussion protocol.
Now, it’s time to sit and wait.
“I have no clue,” said head coach Frank Vogel when asked if George would be available for Game 3 Saturday and if the team is preparing to play with out him at American Airlines Arena in Miami. “We’re preparing for both.”
George was not made available to the media on Thursday afternoon, but many of his teammates talked about the concussion that was suffered and how they didn’t even know it happened until well after their 87-83 loss to the Heat.
“I found out after the game in the media yesterday,” said center Roy Hibbert of George. “I just hope he takes care of himself, don’t rush back too soon. He needs to be healthy first.”
In the end, that would be best for the Pacers if they want to advance to their first NBA Finals in 14 years. In these playoffs George is averaging 21 points and eight rebounds a game to go along with four assists a contest as he continues to establish himself as one of the league’s best players.
Those numbers actually go up slightly during the Pacers’ six road playoff games this season in which Indiana has posted a strong 5-1 record.
Even with his skills and production, Vogel believes the Pacers could pool their resources should George not be able to play and still give the Heat a fight as they look to take a 2-1 series advantage on Saturday night.
“We’ve got great depth, I think we’ve got guys who can fill in,” said Vogel. “Certainly not play at Paul’s level but we would have to adjust. Teams have to adjust to injuries all the time.”