Pacers approaching playoff push as if Paul George won’t return

The Indiana Pacers may be able to do this without Paul George. If they get him back, look out.

The Pacers unexpectedly find themselves in eighth in the Eastern Conference despite having played the entire season without their superstar, who broke his leg in the summer. Thanks in part to great coaching on behalf of Frank Vogel and in part to the tire fire that is the East, the Pacers are 28-34, one of three teams within a half-game of each other for the final two playoff berths.

With George on the recovery track, it’s easy to get excited about what this team could look like in a playoff series. George is on record that he wants to be the missing piece down the stretch and into the playoffs, and the latest updates on his progress are encouraging.

But the Pacers have made it this far without him, and Vogel doesn’t want his charges simply waiting for their best offensive player to return. The team has no choice but to assume George won’t be back, and if he returns, it’s gravy:

Honestly, we’re not even thinking about Paul George right now. Hopefully he can make it back this year and get in some games, but how effective is he going to be having not played in a year? This is a serious injury. He still has a lot of hurdles to pass before he’s even able to get back on the court.

So our whole approach has been that he’s not going to play with us this year. Even right now, we’re trying to become the best possible team we can without him and if he gets back, that’s just going to be a bonus.

Even if George wasn’t close to his 2013-14 form, when he averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals, he’d stand to improve the team on at least one end of the floor. The Pacers rank ninth in defense but 25th in offense, and while their scoring has improved some, they don’t possess a player capable of creating for himself and others quite like George.

Written by Nick Endress

Nick Endress

Nick the Quick Endress is an avid fan of basketball and hip hop, and a contributing writer with WJS since 2013. Nick has interviewed rappers, ballers, rapper ballers, and baller rappers on the site and continues to preach that the NBA should have a team in Europe. Maybe because Nick currently lives outside London where to them Football is actually played with your feet, can you believe this fatuousness?