For all of their defensive faults, the No. 7-seeded Indiana Pacers had a chance to steal Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference matchup with the No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.
But with the clock winding down and the Pacers trailing by one point, the defending champions double-teamed Paul George and forced a swing to CJ Miles—who missed a potential game-winner as time expired:
After the 109-108 loss, George, who led the Pacers with 29 points, told reporters he knows he needs to be the one taking last-second looks with results hanging in the balance.
"I talked to C.J. about it," George said, according to the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram's Rick Noland. "In situations like that, I've got to get the last shot."
Miles agreed and cited the expiring game clock as the primary reason why he was forced to hoist the Pacers' final look.
"As a unit, we wanted Paul to take the shot, but with the time that low, I felt like that was the best option we had at the time," he said, according to the Indianapolis Star's Nate Taylor.
George, though, has a point considering his clutch credentials rank among the league's most impressive.
During the 2016-17 regular season, the Pacers swingman scored 143 points over 150 clutch minutes. (According to NBA.com, the game margin has to be within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation for a situation to be clutch.)
Furthermore, George shot 47.6 percent from the field in clutch moments. That mark ranked seventh overall—behind CJ McCollum, LeBron James, Harrison Barnes, DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Thomas and Marc Gasol—among players who attempted at least 50 shots during those crucial stretches.
Based on those numbers and the four-time All-Star's comments in the aftermath of the heartbreaking loss, it figures to be George-or-bust in crunch time from here on out.
Advanced stats courtesy of NBA.com.
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