Throughout the 2014 NBA Playoffs the Indiana Pacers have been an inconsistent team. The Pacers needed 7 games to dispose of the Hawks and dropped two games to the Washington Wizards. In the Eastern Conference Finals Indi dominated the Heat in game one and went on to lose three games in a row.
On the brink of elimination the Pacers finally showed some fight and defeated the Miami Heat 93-90 in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The sole reason for Indiana’s game 5 win was Pacers forward Paul George. George put up 37 points while shooting 53% from the floor and draining five three point shots. He also contributed 6 steals, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists.
For the entire 2014 playoffs George has been good, but not great. He’s averaging 22 points in the playoffs, just 1 point above his season average. That ain’t good enough.
In game 5 George was great. Imposing his will on the game early put Miami on their heels and built the confidence of his Pacer teammates. George was a true closer scoring 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter.
''I just felt it. I felt in rhythm. I had to be aggressive,'' George said. ''I tried to come out and be aggressive to start this game off and I was getting looks. I got hot.''
There is a clear difference in players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant verses players like Paul George. Talent aside, the will to win is present more often than not in players like James. This “will” is what separates stars from superstars. Paul George can’t afford to be great once in a series. He needs to play at an elite level in every game in order for Indiana to become NBA champions.
George is without question the Pacers best player. Now he has to play like it. Indiana’s backs are up against the wall. It’s win or go home in a hostile environment in South Beach. For the Pacers to win game 6 in Miami George is going to have to be great once again.
Game 6 takes place Friday on ESPN.