Having lost Game 2 at home, the Pacers need to steal at least one game in Miami to ensure the Eastern Conference Finals doesn’t get away from them. That goal became a lot less realistic with the report that forward Paul George has a concussion after taking a knee to the skull.
Midway through the fourth quarter, George battled Dwyane Wade for a loose ball and got kicked in the back of the head twice. Watch:
Strangely, George stayed in the game after this blow. The Pacers explained in a statement (see below) that George was given an evaluation on the bench before returning to (ineffective) action:
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 21, 2014
Unfortunately for the Pacers, a bench evaluation for a concussion goes against NBA protocol, which states: “If a player is suspected of having a concussion, or exhibits the signs or symptoms of concussion, they will be removed from participation and undergo evaluation by the medical staff in a quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.” The bench during a playoff game doesn’t strike me as “quiet” or “distraction-free.”
Now, we don’t know for sure if Paul has a concussion. According to the medical staff, he was evaluated and cleared twice, but the concussion diagnosis was given “based on his post-game reporting.” Now George will have to prove he has fully recovered before re-joining the team. A similar fate befell teammate George Hill last season, but Hill returned after one game. Every player is different: Steph Curry missed five games with a concussion this year; Nikola Vucevic missed a quarter of the season.
Based on the way George was allowed to reenter a highly competitive and important game despite looking like a zombie, expect alterations to the NBA’s protocol this offseason. Speaking of offseason, the Pacers will find themselves there soon enough if they can’t get George back soon.