Paul George returns to Indianapolis for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers to face an Indiana Pacers team coming off a five game road trip.
While it’s only been two and a half years since George demanded a trade and was dealt to Oklahoma City, the Pacers have made a litany of changes. The only current player on the Pacers’ roster that played with George in Indianapolis is Myles Turner.
Only six of the 16 players on the 2016/17 Pacers are currently playing in the NBA. The other four players currently in the league besides Turner and George are Jeff Teague (Minnesota), Thad Young (Chicago), C.J. Miles (Washington), and Georges Niang (Utah).
In George’s first return with Oklahoma City, the fans booed him out of the building. Every time he touched the ball, the boos rained down. He struggled mightily shooting 3-14 from the field and had only two rebounds. He also turned the ball over four times.
After the game George commented, “I had an amazing seven years here. I was blessed to play in front of a great Indiana fan base — which, as you saw, showed up and showed out tonight. I’m grateful to have played in this organization, but ultimately I didn’t achieve what I wanted to do here, so I moved on. Both sides moved on. So, let’s all move on.”
George’s second return to Indianapolis was a different story. George was brilliant for the first 47 minutes. He scored 36 points, and the Pacers had no answer defensively. Just like the first meeting, the fans booed PG13 all night long.
This time the Pacers got the last laugh as Wesley Matthews tipped in the game winning field goal with 1.8 seconds left, completing a 19 point comeback. George had a costly turnover in the final minute that gave the Pacers momentum.
This time George will be visiting as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. He will be joined by NBA champion Kawhi Leonard, who was selected by the Indiana Pacers as the 15th pick in the 2011 draft. Leonard was then sent, on draft night, to San Antonio in the trade that made George Hill a Pacer.
The Clippers are one of the favorites to win a championship this season. The Pacers need to step up and answer the challenge, but the first home game after a long road trip is usually a tough game.
The fans should almost certainly expected to loudly boo George again and make it as uncomfortable as possible for him. The fans are still upset at the trade demand, but the Pacers came out of the deal with the much better pieces: Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.