The Boston Celtics have a talented, young head coach and plenty of hungry, versatile players on their deep roster. And that’s all well and good.
But sometimes you need a little star power to push you over the top, and Paul George was Exhibit A on Wednesday night.
The Indiana Pacers forward was the difference at TD Garden, scoring 17 of his 26 points in the second half to lift the Pacers to their second win over Boston in eight days.
George posted a pretty impressive stat line with 26 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. His line in last Wednesday’s victory over the C’s in Indiana? 26 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
That’s the epitome of consistency, something the Celtics have struggled to find during their 3-4 start.
“There’s a reason there’s certain guys that are at an elite level, right?” head coach Brad Stevens said after the game when asked about George’s performance. “And I think that we’ve got a lot of young guys that aspire to be really good players, and a big part of that is being a very good player every night.”
Just in case you forgot, George missed all but six games last season after he fractured his leg while playing for Team USA in the summer. The gruesome injury could have been a career-ruiner, but the two-time All-Star has worked tirelessly to get back to an elite level.
So far, that hard work has paid off. George has been a monster in the Pacers’ last five contests, averaging 29.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game to help Indiana go 4-1 over that span.
He’s also making shots when they count. After Boston went on a 9-2 run to start the second half Wednesday, George responded by drilling two 3-pointers and getting a layup and a foul to put the Pacers back in front.
So is Stevens surprised George is performing at a high level already after playing almost no competitive basketball over the last 15 months?
“Not from what I’ve heard about his work ethic,” Stevens said. “But it’s a credit to him. He’s come back as good as he left.”
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images