The Indiana Pacers can close out their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the New York Knicks with a win in Game 5 Thursday, but they will have to do so without one of their top stars.
UPDATE: Saturday, May 18. at 6:29 p.m. ET by Iah Hanford
According to New York Times reporter Howard Beck, Hill has been cleared to play in Game 6:
Breaking: George Hill has been cleared to play.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) May 18, 2013
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UPDATE: Saturday, May 18, at 1:15 p.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland
Hill still hasn't been cleared to play, and head coach Frank Vogel is planning as if he won't have the point guard for Game 6 against the Knicks, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
George Hill (concussion) has not been cleared to play for Pacers vs. Knicks. Coach Frank Vogel said he's preparing that Hill won't play— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) May 18, 2013
UPDATE: Saturday, May 18, at 11:40 a.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland
Hill is undergoing concussion testing today, and will be a game-time decision, according to ESPN's Ian Begley.
Pacers say George Hill will be a game-time decision. He's going through shootaround now as 1 of the NBA-mandated tests. More tests to come.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 18, 2013
UPDATE: Friday, May 17, at 6:47 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
According to the Associated Press (via Inside Hoops), "Hill will have another concussion test before Saturday’s home playoff game."
---End of update---
UPDATE: Thursday, May 16, at 11:39 p.m. ET by Eric Ball
It appears as if the status of George Hill will be one of the big storylines leading up to Game 6. When asked about his status for Saturday's pivotal matchup, Hill didn't sound overly optimistic (via Ian Begley of ESPN New York):
George Hill asked if he's going to play Saturday. "I don't know." #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 17, 2013
---End of update---
According to the Pacers' official Twitter feed, point guard George Hill will sit out Thursday night's game at Madison Square Garden with a concussion:
Pacers guard @george_hill3 will miss tonight's game at New York due to a concussion sustained in Game 4.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 16, 2013
As noted by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Hill suffered the injury after being hit in the head by Knicks center Tyson Chandler:
George Hill apparently suffered the concussion when Tyson Chandler hit him in the head. Seem to remember no foul was called.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) May 16, 2013
While Hill was initially shaken up after the hit, but stayed in the contest and his performance showed no signs of slipping. The Pacers point guard played 37 minutes in the team’s 93-82 victory, scoring a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dishing out four assists.
The victory gave Indiana a commanding 3-1 lead over New York, as the series heads back to the Big Apple on Thursday. However, Hill’s injury is the type that could change a closely played series like this on a dime.
The 27-year-old guard has been ascendant versus the Knicks, scoring 17.3 points and dishing out 4.5 assists per game over the first four contests. He’s an integral part of Indiana’s stalwart defense, which has suffocated Carmelo Anthony and New York’s vaunted offense thus far.
Hill’s impact bears wait in the numbers. According to NBA.com, the Pacers have scored 102 points per 100 possessions when Hill is on the floor versus a paltry 92.7 when he sits. They have also been over 11 points worse defensively with Hill on the bench, per NBA.com, totaling a 20-point swing.
Much of that is an extension of Indiana’s dreadful bench play—especially at the point guard spot.
Can the Pacers still defeat the Knicks without George Hill?
Save for a surprising shooting barrage in Game 1 of this series, Hill’s likely replacement, D.J. Augustin, has struggled mightily this season. He’s shooting just 37.3 percent from the floor this postseason, though he does have two double-digit scoring performances versus New York.
The Pacers are looking to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the Miami Heat, who defeated the Chicago Bulls in five games.
There is no word on Hill’s status going forward, but if a Game 6 in this series becomes necessary, we may look at the guard’s injury as a turning point.
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