Coming off a record-setting performance in Tuesday’s win in Minnesota, the Indiana Pacers (2-2) will close out their three-game road trip on Wednesday night against a very familiar face.
Paul George made four All-Star teams in seven seasons in Indiana, helping lead the franchise to six postseason appearances, including back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. But in June, George’s agent informed the Pacers that he did not intend to re-sign with the Blue & Gold when he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, essentially forcing President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard to trade away his star player.
Pritchard did just that on June 30, sending George to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, a pair of former lottery picks.
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George’s departure left a sour taste in the mouth of many Pacers fans, who no doubt circled the team’s two games against the Thunder on their calendars when the 2017-18 schedule was released. While George’s return to Indiana on Dec. 13 will get more attention, his first game against the franchise that drafted him comes on Wednesday, just a week into the new season.
While it is far too early to evaluate who won the blockbuster deal (that result will hinge largely on whether George re-signs with the Thunder this coming summer), the early returns for Indiana have exceeded external expectations.
Oladipo has thrived in his new role as a go-to scorer in Indiana, averaging 23.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 steals over his first four games.
Sabonis, meanwhile, drew rave reviews during training camp even before he was thrust into a starting role after Myles Turner sustained a concussion in the season opener. The 6-10 second-year pro has been more than up for the challenge, recording double-doubles in each of the past two games and averaging 13 points and 9.5 rebounds while shooting 21-for-29 (72.4 percent) from the field so far this season.
On the other hand, George is adjusting to not being his team’s top offensive option for the first time in several seasons, now that he is teammates with reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook and former scoring champ Carmelo Anthony (acquired in another stunning offseason trade). George has average 21.3 points over his first three games, though the Thunder have dropped two consecutive contests after a season-opening win over the Knicks.
Pacers: PG – Darren Collison, SG – Victor Oladipo, SF – Bojan Bogdanovic, PF – Thaddeus Young, C – Domantas Sabonis
Thunder: PG – Russell Westbrook, SG – Andre Roberson, SF – Paul George, PF – Carmelo Anthony, C – Steven Adams
Pacers: Glenn Robinson III – out (left ankle surgery rehabilitation), Edmond Sumner – out (left knee surgery rehabilitation), Myles Turner – doubtful (sore neck, concussion)
February 6, 2017: The Pacers held off a late flurry from Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in a 93-90 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. After Paul George’s jumper with 1:20 to play gave Indiana a three-point lead, the Thunder had four looks to tie the game over the final 1:02 — including two from Westbrook in the closing four seconds — but missed on all of them.
George led Indiana with 21 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Jeff Teague added 17 points, while Glenn Robinson added 14 points off the bench on 5-of-5 shooting (3-of-3 from 3-point range).
Westbrook just missed out on a triple-double with 27 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists. Steven Adams added 15 points and nine rebounds, while Oladipo had 14 points but on 4-of-16 shooting.
- The Pacers are 37-48 all time against the Thunder/Sonics franchise, including a 3-5 record in Oklahoma City.
- Indiana swept the season series with OKC in 2016-17 for the first time since 2008-09.
- In 17 career games against the Pacers (16 starts), Westbrook is averaging 22.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 9.1 assists.
- Lance Stephenson needs XX points on Wednesday to reach 2,000 career points with the Pacers (23-POINTS TUESDAY).
The Pacers return from their three-game road trip to face LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 4:30 PM ET. Find Tickets »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)
<!–Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.–>
Away Game Night Special
We Are Indiana T-Shirt – $12. Game Night Specials can be purchased online the day of each away game from 10:00 AM – Midnight. Order Online »
Home Court Gift Shop Game Night Special
Primary Logo Tee – $12. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersTeamStore.com until midnight.
Construction Note: The city’s department of public works is replacing the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Street from just north of Georgia Street to Bankers Life Court. Portions of the sidewalk may be closed, but pedestrians should still have access to the Pennsylvania Street entrance of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.–>