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Paul George still waiting on burst to return to his game

Paul George is ahead of schedule for pushing the Pacers into playoff contention with a productive all-around game. But he still knows there's another level to reach in his return from injury.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Saying Paul George is back has become cliché and the fact is PG isn't back to his old self, even if he is better than his old self.

Heading into the Pacers matchup with the Wizarsd on Monday night, PG is averaging 24.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Blake Griffin has nearly identical numbers but no other NBA player has higher trio of averages across the board. And this after stumbling out of the gate in the first two games.

But PG knows he still isn't all the way back. There's still something missing that can raise his game a little higher despite all of the big numbers and flashy plays and winning of late.

"I think it is something that I will only know," George said.

The ability to drive the lane and burst through defenders to the hoop isn't actually missing, it just isn't always available when he needs it. On opening night in Toronto, PG showed that burst to the hoop, with a strong take through several defenders which allowed him to take a hit in the air and still finish with ease.

"(The burst) is just not there on demand yet," George admitted.

If it was, maybe PG is able to blow by or through Jimmy Butler on his game-winning attempt that was blocked in the Pacers' last loss to the Bulls. Those are the next-level types of plays George expects to make regardless of the elite matchup he's facing. How much is mental and how much is physical is hard to tell, but George expects to keep pushing to another lethal level.

"Earlier in my career I was just able to jump," George said. "Now I have to put a lot into a gather and really be ready to explode, so I notice it's something that's not fully there. From the naked eye, people don't see it, but I think I'm the only one that will notice that little bit that has to come."

Oh, I think we'll notice.

PG is averaging almost seven free throw attempts per game, but sans the burst he often "settles" for pull up jumpers or passes. These have certainly been productive plays, hence the quotes around settles, but in tight games down the stretch, in the playoffs (yeah, we're talking playoffs), when settling for a contested perimeter shot won't do, having that burst to get into people and draw a foul with a chance for a bucket would be a nice option for PG and the Pacers to add to their arsenal.

Then the whole league will be on notice.