With the Pacers looking to close out the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, this afternoon’s news was bad: George Hill suffered a concussion during a collision with Tyson Chandler during the first half of Game 4, according to Pacers coach Frank Vogel, and will miss Game 5 tonight.
I’m not a doctor, but the chronology seems to mean that Hill’s 14-point third quarter outburst happened while he was concussed. He scored 5 of the team’s 7 field goals in the quarter while being the one player on the court who seemingly had no business on the floor.
“About four o’clock today, that’s when I found out,” said Vogel. “He had the test this afternoon.” Vogel added that Hill never complained of any pain during Game 4 that the coach was aware of.
Hill will miss Game 5 in New York, and his status will remain day to day until he can pass the league-mandated, concussion-test protocols for a player to return to the court after he has been diagnosed as suffering a concussion.
Concussions are no joke. The NFL has taught us that. So after George Hill started showing some concussion-like symptoms in the two days since Game 4, the Pacers had him checked out.
D.J. Augustin will start at point guard for the Pacers.
“He’s run the team as our point all year, so nothing will change with him in the game,” said Vogel about Augustin’s time on the court.
Augustin has been playing his best basketball of the season in the playoffs, so the proposition of him playing is not as scary for Pacers fans as it would have been a few months ago. Still, his size on defense could prove problematic, and Indiana may for the first time in this series face a real challenge in terms of trying to put a team effort into containing Raymond Felton.
Getting back to offense, when Augustin is out is when the offense may get weird.
Vogel said that both Lance Stephenson, a combo guard who has started at shooting guard all season, will likely see some minutes at the backup point spot. Seldom-used reserve Ben Hansbrough, the brother of Tyler, may also see time.
Vogel also noted before the game that, if Stephenson plays minutes at the point, this means minutes will open up on the wing, and these will need to be filled by the likes of Sam Young, Gerald Green and possibly even Orlando Johnson, who has yet to see a meaningful minute in this postseason.
This writer, while speculating, would also not be shocked to see Paul George go all 48 minutes. He has played 45:02 and 43:21 in the past two games against New York, and is averaging nearly 43 minutes per game over his last five games dating back to the final game of the Atlanta series.
Then again, asking a guy — even a 23-year-old — to lock up Carmelo Anthony for even that long per night is quite the proposition, so the returns could start diminishing and affect his ability to close the game as a scorer if it comes to that.
Perhaps Sam Young is the answer.
File that sentence under “things I never thought I would type.”
Given that closing out a good team on its home floor was going to be difficult anyway, perhaps there will be some value in throwing Johnson out there. He proved that he’s capable of being an offensive spark at times in the regular season, and he generally plays with a fearlessness that may keep him from being affected by trying to execute inside the World’s Most Famous Arena. He may just be too young and green to know any better.
And more importantly, he’s not Green.