Paul George faces his former organization for the first time since his acrimonious departure when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. George was a four-time All-Star in his seven seasons with the Pacers but requested a trade during the summer and now is teammates with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City.
George reflected on his departure from the Pacers - he is scheduled to be a free agent following this season - and the 6-9 forward admitted he could have handled the situation smoother. “Obviously, I‘m human. Things could have been done a lot better,” George told the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday. “The process, that whole ordeal, could have been done a lot better. I’ll share some of that responsibility. But at the end of the day, I did what was best for myself, what was best for my family. I had to move on. It was the right decision for myself.” Indiana acquired guard Victor Oladipo and post player Domantas Sabonis in the deal, and the former is thriving with back-to-back 28-point efforts - including 11-of-16 shooting in Tuesday’s 130-107 rout of Minnesota. The Pacers will be without center Myles Turner (concussion/neck) for the fourth straight game.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, FSN Oklahoma
ABOUT THE PACERS (2-2): Oladipo is averaging 23.8 points with three 20-point performances and is being asked to score more than at any time in his previous four NBA seasons. He had plenty of offensive help on Tuesday as six players scored in double digits, and the team set a franchise record by shooting 66.7 percent from the field. “If you move the ball as they did (Tuesday night), guys are going to have wide-open looks,” coach Nate McMillan told reporters. “No one was really holding the ball - they were getting it out to the open guy. We took a lot of uncontested shots because of the good ball movement.”
ABOUT THE THUNDER (1-2): George is settling in with Oklahoma City, as he is averaging 21.3 points in three games despite shooting just 37.1 percent. Returning to play the Pacers in Indianapolis on Dec. 13 will be the true emotional test for George, but he certainly is going to have to manage his feelings upon seeing his former team for the first time as an opposing player. “I‘m sure there’s things that he’s going through, but he’s a pro, and he’ll handle things how he sees fit to handle them,” coach Billy Donovan told reporters. “I think he’ll be fine. I didn’t know him at all (before the trade). After the trade happened, I went and visited with him. Great guy, very bright, very humble, really good person. Fit in very, very well with our guys.”
1. The Pacers won both of last season’s meetings and have prevailed in four of the last five.
2. Westbrook, the reigning NBA MVP, is averaging 19.3 points, 11.7 assists and 9.3 rebounds through three games.
3. Indiana PG Darren Collison contributed 15 points and 16 assists against Minnesota, the latter being four shy of his career best.
PREDICTION: Thunder 112, Pacers 105