The story of Paul George's evolution into an NBA All-Star got one of its defining performances in his first playoff game of the season.
Truly relishing his role as an offensive focal point, George posted a triple-double with 23 points,12 assists and 11 rebounds -- also tying Reggie Miller's franchise mark for made free throws during a game -- in the Indiana Pacers' 107-90 win in Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.
"He was all over the place tonight," Pacers coach Frank Vogel told media after the game. "That's who Paul George is. He makes the All-Star game not because he's scoring 28 points per game. He's just one of the most complete players in the game."
Indiana shot 34 free throws for the evening, eclipsing the Hawks' total by 20. George made 17 of his 18 attempts, more than double the amount Atlanta made (seven). Having struggled coming into the playoffs, both George individually and the Pacers as a team found their groove once again.
Despite going 3-for-13 from the floor, George said he was taking everything one play at a time. He really pressured himself to have an attacking mentality.
"It was really just a whole mindset," George said. "I didn't do anything different. I just told myself, really just try to get to the free throw line. Jump shots is going to come and go ... I understand that. What I got to get better at is getting to the line."
"Huge for our confidence getting back to playing our style of basketball," George added with respect to the team. "That's a tough team, they came out hitting shots. What we did great at is not letting them string baskets together."
Vogel was simply pleased about George setting the tone. After shooting down concerns as the Pacers slipped toward the end of the regular season, the head coach had, in essence, an I-told-you-so moment.
"Before you do anything, you have to stick to who you are," Vogel said.
Source: Via NBA.com's live press conference stream