INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Pacers coach Frank Vogel says Paul George is feeling better after being diagnosed with a concussion.
It is still uncertain whether he will be ready to play Saturday night at Miami when the Eastern Conference finals resume with the series tied 1-1.
Indiana’s two-time All-Star wore a red jersey and was limited to non-contact drills at Thursday’s practice after getting injured in a collision with Miami’s Dwyane Wade midway through the fourth quarter of Game 2, which Miami won 87-83.
Following the game, George told reporters he “blacked out” and had blurred vision when he was hit in the back of his head by Wade’s knee — descriptions team doctors said they were unaware of when George returned to the court.
Based on those descriptions and further examination Wednesday, team doctors said George would be subject to the league’s concussion protocol.
“There is a minimal contact requirement that he’s got to do and be tested afterward,” Vogel said, referring to NBA rules governing medical clearance.
George took shots Thursday and made a dunk before leaving the court. He was not available to reporters following practice.
Vogel made it clear that George only did light work and that he wasn’t sure if the Pacers would have their top scorer for Game 3 — or even who he would put in the starting lineup if George couldn’t play. In fact, Vogel said, the Pacers might not know that answer until Saturday.
“We are preparing for both (possibilities),” Vogel said. “I think we have guys that can fill in, certainly not play at Paul’s level. But we would have to adjust the end result at the time, and I’m sure we will be able to do that.”
The NBA’s concussion policy states that once a player is diagnosed, he needs to be “held out of all activity until he is symptom-free at rest” and until neurological signs return to normal. George will have to go through tests of increasing exertion before being cleared.
The Pacers star remained face down after a play that resembled more of a football tackle than a scramble for a loose ball. Wade also remained down before limping to the bench.
George’s teammates said they never imagined he had a head injury.
“I know he fell. I thought he hit his face, but like I said he was cool,” power forward David West said. “I didn’t know he was hurt.”
Following a timeout, George and Wade both returned to the floor and finished the game. That prompted questions about whether Pacers doctors should have been more cautious with George and whether players are honest with team doctors in similar situations.
The NBA said Indiana followed league policy.
Point guard George Hill went through a similar experience in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals against New York, missing Game 5 before returning for Game 6. Hill said he believes George’s return to practice, albeit limited, was an “encouraging” sign that George might play Saturday.
Hill said the toughest tests he had to pass were on the treadmill and on the court.
But he doesn’t believe George provided incorrect information to the doctors so he could continue to play.
“He was honest at the time, he didn’t feel anything until after and I think in that case your adrenaline is pushing so high that you just don’t really realize until you actually sit down,” Hill said. “I think he was very honest as to how he felt. I think our training staff did a great job asking questions.”