There's a growing sense of confidence among the Indiana Pacers regarding the status of star forward Paul George for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. George still needs to pass NBA post-concussion protocol after suffering a head injury in Game 2, but it appears the team expects that to happen.
George suffered the concussion in the second half against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, then told reporters after the game that he had blacked out and dealt with blurred vision. This apparently came as news to the Pacers, who claim they followed NBA concussion protocol by testing George before letting him back on the court.
That's where things have gotten messy, as George reportedly denied any symptoms to trainers during the game before revealing otherwise after the contest. The usefulness of the league's post-concussion practices have been scrutinized, and it's easy to wonder who is exactly at fault here.
None of it may ultimately matter in the short-term, though, as the Pacers seem to be fast-tracking George in order to have him ready for Game 3 against Miami. Here's a breakdown of what the league requires for a player diagnosed with a concussion in order to return to play:
Return-to Participation Protocol:
- The return to participation protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion -- from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.
- With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).
- While the final return-to participation decision is to be made by the player’s team physician, the team physician must discuss the return-to-participation process and decision with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the Director of the NBA’s Concussion Program, prior to the player being cleared for full participation in NBA Basketball.
- It's important to note that there is no timeframe to complete the protocol. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.
As of Friday morning, it's unclear how far along George might be in this process, but presumably he's making headway given how little time he has before Saturday's game. The league still needs to give him clearance, but given how it's already handled this situation, that may not be a particularly large hurdle.
George has averaged 21.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals in 15 playoff games this year. In Game 2 vs. Miami, he struggled badly, scoring 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting in 43 minutes.