A few weeks ago it looked like Paul George would return for the final stretch of the Indiana Pacers’ run towards the playoffs. But with just eight games left on the schedule, last year’s runner-up in the Eastern Conference is still without their best player.
When George suffered a broken leg this past summer, it was presumed by many that he’d be out for the whole season. The Pacers started out the year slowly, losing 30 of their first 45 games, and there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for George to try to play at all in the 2014-2015 season. That quickly changed when Indiana started winning games, and found themselves in a position to grab a postseason spot in a weak conference.
With the Pacers having a legitimate chance to finish the regular season as the No.8 seed in the East, George made it known that he wanted to return this year. He told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports on Feb. 13 that he hoped to be back on the court in a month. Almost seven weeks later, George remains sidelined.
There is still no return date set for George. The forward has yet to be cleared by the team to play in a game, but he appears confident that he’s ready to come back from his injury.
“I feel good, but it’s not just me that has to feel good," George told reporters on Saturday. “Everyone has to feel good about it. So that’s what we’re waiting on. It could be close, it could be not. But everybody’s got to be on the same page with this.”
George has been practicing full-time in preparation to return to action. While the Pacers might not be ready to play him in an actual game, he and some of his teammates appear to be confident that he can help the team right now.
"Seeing the things he does in practice, it's awesome," Hibbert told NBA.com’s David Aldridge. "He's coming. But I don't know what's going on with, I'm not a part of it. The training staff hasn't told us what they're planning on doing, and the front office doesn't. So they collectively talk. But the things he does in practice looks like the old PG, so whenever he comes back he'll be good ... People are going to be surprised. He's going to have a big play his first couple of possessions back."
Last week, Pacers president Larry Bird told ESPN that he expects George to play this year, but he hadn’t been cleared by the team’s doctors. Having gone 15-10 in their last 25 games, Indiana is two games in the loss column behind both the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets for the final two playoff spots in the East.
In George’s absence, point guard George Hill leads the team with 16.2 points per game. Last season, George was No.1 on the team with 21.7 points per game, adding 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.