Thursday, May 23, 2013

Game 1 ECF: Paul George Great, LeBron James Better

The Game Winner (Associated Press photo)
Remember how I advocated that the Eastern Conference Finals would be better than advertised? Well after Game 1, guess who's right.

Paul George continued to come of age as the Palmdale native hit big shot after big shot, none bigger than his 32-foot, 3-pointer to force overtime. If there's a doubt why he was voted Most Improved Player, he erased them by stepping up.

Was that first 3-point shot lucky? A little bit but a good shot is a good shot. No more lucky than having the presence of mind to shoot a 3 in overtime with D-Wade draped all over him. He was 2.2 seconds away from being the hero after sinking three free throws to give Indiana the lead.

And yet, it wasn't enough. It was like Craig Ehlo feeling happy about this, before this happened. Just like Ehlo, George just had to play defense. Instead, he over-committed and became a footnote in the latest chapter of LeBron James' greatness.


Neo James ruined the Paul George Praise Fest by reminding us that 1) he's still the MVP, 2) he's not afraid to attack the basket, 3) he'll upstage anybody with a dominating performance of his own. That game-winning shot not only had me screaming in my house, but made me a prophet because I felt he'd attack the basket no matter what.

Give Pacers head coach Frank Vogel an assist for taking out Roy Hibbert but remember when we criticized James for settling for jumpers? Twice, he made the smart basketball play and twice he made the Pacers pay.

30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists. 3 blocks. We're just on his planet watching him work. While some choose to nitpick, I'd rather just admire and realize how much he has changed just in the last 3-4 years.

(Associated Press photo)
Game 1 was better than I thought it'd even be. I know I have Miami winning this series but if it can be this physical, this good and this intense, I'll enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying San Antonio take Memphis to the big leagues.

Paul George will have more nights like this I hope. But while his best was great, the best from the reigning MVP was better on this night.

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