It had been quite an eventful Eastern Conference Finals through two games for Pacers forward Paul George, with a roller coaster Game 1 followed up by an excellent performance in Game 2 that included a memorable slam on Chris Andersen. Much of the talk following Game 2 centered around George's emergence as a superstar, but his poor performance in a 114-96 Game 3 loss may quiet some of that chatter for the moment.
George managed only 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting in Game 3 and he seemed especially tentative on offense at the outset of the game. The 23-year-old had just four points on 1-of-3 shooting in the first half as Indiana fell behind by double digits. George did up eight assists in the game, but the Pacers will need more scoring from him if they hope to even the series once again.
Perhaps part of the reason why George struggled on offense was due to the energy he had to exert guarding LeBron James. James made a concerted effort to work in the post, and George had to battle him 1-on-1 with no help. George is at a serious weight disadvantage in that matchup, which showed as was able to bully him on multiple occasions down low.
George did start to wake up a bit in the second half, looking for his shot more and getting to the foul line. He had nine points in the third quarter and got to the free throw line six times, but he missed three of the freebies. He still wound up only 2-of-7 from the field in the second half.
George is an excellent player who is sure to bounce back after this rough performance. It's sometimes hard to remember that he's just 23, but games like this remind us that he's still young with a lot of room to grow. That's a scary thing for the rest of the league.