Larry Bird: you can’t replace Paul George but we’ll do our best to make playoffs


bird-pacersAfter losing Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Hornets in free agency and with Paul George likely out for the season, the Indiana Pacers may not even make the playoffs in the next season.

The team’s president, NBA legend Larry Bird however thinks different, as he confidently told journalists recently.

“Have our expectations lowered any? I don’t think so. I think we’ll compete hard and do our best to make the playoffs; that’s always one of our goals.” Bird said, Indianapolis Star reported.

“I can sit up here and sugarcoat it all you want me to, but you just can’t replace Paul George,” Bird added.

He went on to say that George is out of the team and the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“The timing couldn’t have been worse,” Bird said. “At this point, most teams are set.”

The playoffs may still be a realistic goal, but at best, the Pacers will be fighting for one of the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference, according to DimeMagazine. The Pacers’ season promises to be long.

The Pacers won 56 games in 2013-2014 and finished eight games ahead of the Chicago Bulls for first in the Central Division.

Even with last year’s roster, the Pacers finished 22nd in offensive efficiency and were 24th in the league in points per game. Unless there’s a significant improvement from Roy Hibbert on the offensive end, or if newly acquired C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey have career years, it would be reasonable to expect Indiana to struggle on the offensive end again this year.

Paul George suffered a severe right leg injury during the showcase game of the Team USA and early reports said he might as well miss the entire next season. After undergoing successful surgery, Paul indicated that the recovery time will be slow and there is no timetable for his return.

George admitted that the injury could take an entire year to fully recover.  Although he is hopeful to return to the court sometime in the 2014-2015 season, he knows that sitting out the entire year is possible. The recovery is long, but George remains optimistic.

George, a four-year NBA veteran out of Fresno State, averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last season. In 286 career games, all with the Pacers, George is averaging 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.


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