George Hill Returns from Injury for Cavaliers vs. Pacers in Game 7

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 20:  George Hill #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the Indiana Pacers in Game Three of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2018 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue confirmed Sunday morning that point guard George Hill would return for Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Lue did not announce a starting lineup or confirm that Hill would return to the starting five upon his return, however, meaning he could be coming off the bench Sunday.

Hill, 31, has missed the past three games of the series due to back spasms, though he wasn't a major factor in the first three contests, averaging just 8.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Hill never quite found his footing in Cleveland during the regular season, either, posting just 9.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 24 contests after being acquired from the Sacramento Kings.

Still, having the veteran back in action is important for a Cavaliers team shockingly on the brink of elimination in the first round, as Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports noted: 

Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS

Cavs-Pacers -Oladipo delivers: 12-50 in last three games; 11-19 (28-points) in Game 6 -LBJ was good (22-points, seven-assists). No one else was. -Three-ball: Pacers (50%) ... Cavs (31.6%) -Cavs need George Hill in Game 7. Calderon, Clarkson were brutal.

Superstar LeBron James has never lost a first-round series or even played in a Game 7 in the opening round, and a Cleveland loss on Sunday afternoon would further fuel the mounting talk that he could depart Cleveland in free agency this summer. 

That potential departure would almost assuredly be the beginning of a rebuilding effort in Cleveland, and players like Hill, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Jordan Clarkson could all find themselves on the trade block. 

Those five players alone will cost $87.7 million against the cap next season, per Spotrac.com, potentially limiting the Cavs' chances to quickly retool in free agency should James depart.

That, of course, is the doomsday scenario, one that may not take place even if Cleveland loses on Sunday. And getting Hill back should certainly help Cleveland's chances to beat the Pacers in the crucial game, as the team looks to stave off both elimination and the beginning of what promises to be an uncertain offseason.


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