Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz took Pacers second-year guard Paul George to task for his play of late in the playoffs which has been inconsistent at best. PG left his shooting touch in the regular season and that has messed with his confidence. You can almost hear him thinking about whether he should pull the trigger on shots.
Kravitz is begging the burgeoning talent to step up his game and be more assertive and Larry Bird agrees to a point.
"He's got to pick it up," the Pacers president said after Monday's practice. "This isn't the time to feel sorry for yourself. Sometimes players lose their shot, and they lose all their confidence. As he gets along in his career, we think he can be a pretty good scorer. But just because you're not making shots doesn't mean you can't do the other things.
"Disappointed? No. I mean, he's so young (just turned 22). Last year he was in five playoff games, and it's just the first round this year. These young guys, they're going to learn, each playoff game gets harder as you go along. Not each series, each game. These guys don't understand that yet."
PG definitely needs to be more aggressive going to the hoop when he gets the opportunity, but another factor in his willingness (or his unwillingness, if you will) to assert himself is the role he is playing in the rotation. With the starting unit, PG is the fourth offensive option and maybe fifth considering George Hill has the ball in his hands. The Pacers spread the ball around quite a bit, but in the playoffs things have tightened up as you've seen them work through David West much more.
So that leaves PG in a more passive role of moving to open spots as a safety valve. Hard to be too assertive in that role without disrupting what the rest of the offense is trying to accomplish. That's part of what PG has to learn, how to remain ready to attack even when the opportunities to do so are spread out. The Pacers will need that mindset from George as the move further into the playoffs because things won't get any easier the rest of the way.