- Michael Wallace, ESPN Staff Writer
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MIAMI -- LeBron James anticipates Paul George will play when Indiana visits Miami for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday, and he wasn’t surprised the Pacers’ All-Star forward continued to play after admitting to have “blacked out” late in Tuesday’s loss to the Heat.
George’s status for Saturday’s game is questionable after he was diagnosed Wednesday with a concussion. The official diagnosis came a day after George was kneed in the back of the head by Heat guard Dwyane Wade as the two scrambled for a loose ball midway through the fourth quarter of the Heat’s 87-83 Game 2 victory in Indianapolis.
After the collision, George remained face down on the court for several seconds and was eventually helped up and escorted to the bench by the Pacers training staff. He was initially examined during a timeout but remained in the game until the finish.
Afterward, George told reporters he momentarily blacked out and had blurred vision the remainder of the game. Upon learning of George’s comments, the Pacers medical staff met with George again for further analysis, and the team announced he was treated under league protocol for the concussion.
“I think every last player in the [conference finals] would play through it,” James said Thursday. “Obviously, a concussion is very serious. We don’t have concussion tests as extensive as the NFL’s; it doesn’t happen as much. But I think all of us would have played through it under the circumstances.”
George must pass several levels of tests before he is cleared to play Saturday, but James doesn’t believe there’s any way George won’t be on the court ready for action at AmericanAirlines Arena with the series tied 1-1.
Wade made it clear Thursday that the collision with George wasn’t intentional. He reframed the question when a reporter asked him about hitting George in the head with his knee.
“When my knee hit his head, not when I hit him with my knee,” Wade attempted to clarify. “It was a bang-bang play, with two guys going for the ball. I know he stayed down for a while, but then he came right back into the game. I was talking to him a little bit, and you can tell he was dazed when he got hit, because he stayed down for a while. But he sucked it up and came right back in.”
Wade said he had a brief conversation with George during the game to see if he was OK and to explain his vantage point of the collision. The two then focused on the rest of the game.
“The fortunate thing about it is that we have days in between the games, which he’s able to recover by Saturday,” Wade said of George. “Hopefully all is well and he’s out there and he’s Paul George on Saturday. We want to make sure both teams have all of their weapons.”
After leading all reserves with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting in a Game 1 loss, Andersen came back with a team-high 12 rebounds in Game 2. He is averaging 8.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 24 minutes in two games against Indiana’s front line of 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert and rugged forward David West.
“We need his energy, his toughness, his rebounding, his defense,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday about Andersen. “This is a big muscle series. So we need what he brings to the table.”
Andersen has been the Heat’s most effective big man in the series, with both Bosh and Udonis Haslem yet to reach double figures in points or rebounds in a game. Bosh said Andersen’s boost is vital.
“Birdman, he’s fantastic,” Bosh said. “He runs the floor, he draws fouls, he gets to the free throw line, and he gets dunks and layups, and he can rebound the hell out of the ball. He’s helped us ever since he got here. And he’s a major part of this team, bringing energy with that second group.”
Andersen (leg bruise) and Greg Oden (conditioning) both practiced Thursday for Miami. Indiana forward George (concussion) wore a red jersey, signifying noncontact, at Pacers practice. Under the NBA’s concussion protocol, he must remain symptom-free for 24 hours before he is cleared to play.
DID YOU KNOW?
Teams that win Game 3 of NBA playoff series tied 1-1 have gone on to win the series 76 percent of the time. The Heat are the lone remaining team in the playoffs that is undefeated at home in the postseason, boasting an eight-game win streak dating to last year’s NBA Finals win against San Antonio.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’ve heard about it. I don’t really have thoughts about it. I’m in the middle of the conference finals. I’m not worried about draft lotteries, draft conversations. That’s the last thing on my mind.” – LeBron James, on his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, getting the No. 1 overall pick for the third time since his departure as a free agent in 2010