George Ready To Go In Game 3

by Wheat Hotchkiss | @Wheat_Hotchkiss

May 24, 2014

MIAMI – Paul George is cleared to play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

That sound you heard was the entire state of Indiana breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The past three days have been filled with will-he-or-won’t-he speculation ever since George was officially diagnosed with a concussion the morning after Tuesday night’s Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat in Indianapolis.

But now, the media horde that has descended on South Beach will have to find a new topic du jour. The Pacers said in a release Friday night that George had passed the return-to participation protocol detailed in the NBA’s concussion policy and was cleared to play in Game 3 “barring any unforeseen complications.” George was a full participant in Saturday morning’s shootaround and is ready to go for Game 3.

George told a throng of reporters at American Airlines Arena that no one was more relieved that he was cleared to play than No. 24 himself.

“I couldn’t even think about coming (to Miami) and not being a part of this game, especially how huge Game 3 will be for us,” George said.

George’s initial injury occurred when he collided with Miami’s Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter of Game 2 on Tuesday night. George was examined by the team’s medical staff, exhibited no symptoms of a concussion, and returned to the game.

But George told the media after the game that he had briefly “blacked out” after making contact with Wade. After consultation with a physician on the Pacers’ off-day on Wednesday, George was diagnosed with a concussion based on his statement.

On Thursday and Friday, George wore a red jersey and was barred from contact, effectively making him a by-stander except for shooting before and after practice. Over the past few days, George has had to go through a series of tests of his physical and mental acuity before being cleared to return to full participation. According to the NBA’s policy, those tests include “(riding) a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.”

George said that riding the stationary bike and running for 30 straight minutes were his least favorite tests, quipping, “I’m not in love with running or riding bikes.”

Pacers point guard George Hill sat out one game in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals with a concussion, and said that going through all of the physical tests in the NBA’s return-to play protocol left him winded in his first game back.

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said he was “mildly concerned” that George might experience some fatigue tonight because of what happened with Hill, but George said he felt prepared to perform at his best.

“It’s a tiring protocol to go through to get cleared, but I was able to manage my legs, still ice them down, make sure they’re fresh as possible,” George said.

According to George, he wasn’t given any indication from doctors of the level of severity of his concussion, but all indications are that it was rather mild. He was allowed to drive, showed no sensitivity to light, and said he hadn’t experienced any concussion symptoms since Tuesday night. And even though he wasn’t cleared for contact, George got plenty of time in at the gym.

“I was still in the gym working on shooting, ball-handling, still staying in touch with the basketball,” George said.

Vogel told reporters that there is no plan to limit George’s minutes in Game 3. George played 43 minutes in Indiana’s Game 1 victory and 39 minutes in Game 2, defending four-time NBA MVP LeBron James for the vast majority of that time.

With George’s status no longer in question, the focus can now shift back to what promises to be another hotly-contested battle between the top two teams in the East. To the delight (and relief) of the Hoosier state, the Pacers will be at full strength.

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