The Pacers announced on Wednesday that Paul George suffered a concussion in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The team said in a statement that George would “begin the NBA-mandated protocol for return-to-participation after a diagnosed concussion.” The Heat and Pacers play Game 3 on Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. The series is tied 1-1 after the Heat’s 87-83 victory on Tuesday at Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It was unclear on Wednesday if George would be allowed to return to action by Saturday. According to the NBA’s concussion policy, a “concussed player may not return to participation until he is asymptomatic at rest and has successfully completed the NBA concussion return-to-participation exertion protocol.”
A summary of the NBA’s return-to-participation protocol is available on the NBA’s website. According to the website, the “protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion — from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.”
“With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step,” reads the concussion policy. “If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol.”
George didn’t appear to lose consciousness in the fourth quarter, but he said he “blacked out” after his collision with Dwyane Wade with 6:50 left. George finished the game despite being helped off the court by Pacers trainers after Wade’s knee inadvertently slammed into the back of George’s head. The Pacers’ star small forward appeared a bit woozy as he walked to the bench but returned to the court following a timeout.
“I blacked out as soon as it happened and then however much time was remaining, I was just blurry,” George said after the game.
George’s admission of losing consciousness prompted the team to consult a neurologist.
“Because of the statement and Indiana’s ongoing evaluation and management of potential concussions, George underwent further testing and evaluation Wednesday morning,” the Pacers’ statement said. “He has been diagnosed by the team’s consulting neurologist with a concussion, based on his post-game reporting that he had briefly lost consciousness during the game.”
In the statement, the Pacers explained why George was allowed to return to action.
“Immediately after the play, George exhibited no symptoms of a concussion and, in response to questions from the Pacers’ medical staff, he denied dizziness, nausea and issues with his vision,” the statement said. “He was also active and aware of his surroundings. As a result, the Indiana medical staff did not suspect a concussion.”
The arena’s fans on Tuesday in Indianapolis directed “flopper” chants at LeBron James throughout the game, but it was Pacers forward Lance Stephenson who was fined $5,000 by the NBA for flopping.
The incident occurred with 3:37 left in the third quarter when Stephenson feigned a foul after bumping into James in the open court. Stephenson went the ground and was called for a foul. He then dramatically rolled over and acted as if he was either asleep or injured.
Co-captain Udonis Haslem delivered the inspiring words in Game 1, but it was the other co-captain, Wade, who gave a passionate pregame speech Tuesday night.
“It was simple,” Wade said. “Today was just about how bad we want it. This wasn’t about X’s and O’s. It just was about how bad do we want to win this game? We proved it. We showed it.
“It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but we kept fighting. We kept digging down deep, and eventually the game turned in our favor and to Miami Heat basketball. We love those games.”
THIS AND THAT• George, the Pacers’ small forward, on the importance of Game 3: “We have to go on their floor and take a game the same way they did. We have this one away, so we have to work even harder on their floor.”
• The Heat scored 12 points in the paint in the fourth quarter.
“It was defensive breakdowns,” George said. “They were just back-cutting. We should have done a better job. I should have done a better job to make sure I don’t get back-cut.”• Norris Cole, summing up the importance of Wade and James for the Heat: “We have the best two-way players in the game, and they’ll find you. That’s why they’re the $100 million guys.”
James assisted on Cole’s two second-half three-pointers.