Fresh off of his 6-for-19 performance during Indiana’s embarrassing 101-93 loss at home to a sub .500 Hawks team on Saturday, Paul George needed some “R&R” otherwise known as rest and relaxation. At least, that’s what his Instagram post said with a picture of George holding up some fish he caught on Easter Sunday.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with George taking his day off from the playoffs to go fishing on what looks like a fine Easter Sunday in Indianapolis.
But the timing of the pic, so soon after the Pacers squandered the home-court advantage they’ve been talking endlessly about all season, suggests a lack of self-awareness.
George’s caption: “A lil R&R out on the lake with my bro @jacob_wheeler12.. go follow him!” also speaks towards a blind spot in terms of his interaction with fans. If you’re a Pacers fan, do you really want George fishing and giving IG call-outs to his fishing bro when his team just suffered an emotionally draining loss on their home floor? Probably not, as some of the irascible comments show.
But George’s IG game isn’t the only thing he needs to worry about. He really needs to start finding the bottom of the nylon more. After starting the year red-hot, he was something of an MVP candidate in the first couple months, George’s offensive game tapered off badly in the final few months of the season.
He shot just 37 percent from the field during 18 games in March when the real bad blood in Indiana began. Roy Hibbert took a thinly veiled shot at George when he called out teammates for being selfish — Hibbert has since apologized for the remarks — and PG’s three-point shooting fell below 30 percent in March as well (he was 3-for-8, or 37.5 percent from deep on Saturday).
George is still shooting better than he did last season, when he struggled taking on more of an offensive burden following Danny Granger‘s loss due to injury. But his tendency to fall in love with the mid-range jumper is a habit he’s got to break. The “dead zone” (courtesy Haralobos Voulgaris) from around 10 feet to the three-point arc, is the least efficient shot in basketball and George is taking a higher percentage of his shots from that area than ever before in his career, per basketball-reference.com.
That wouldn’t be a problem, but he’s only connecting on 40 percent of his shots between 10-16 feet and 39 percent from 16 feet to the arc. Overall this season, he’s below 40 percent on mid-range shots, per NBA.com. Those percentages aren’t bad in comparison to the rest of the NBA, around average, but when you’re spending the majority of your time coming off screens and gunning just inside the arc, or dribbling at the top of the key before lofting up a shot, it discourages teammates from moving without the ball (why bother), and allows the defense to relax.
When George attacks, even for a pull-up near the elbows, it forces the defense to collapse to contain him, opening up his teammates to cut to the basket or come in for an offensive rebound. That hasn’t been happening in the last few months, and the Pacers’ half-court offense has stagnated as a result.
There are a lot of things wrong with the No. 1 seed in the East, not just George’s jumper, but it’s probably the worst time to publicly reveal your R&R.
Will the Pacers figure this out before it’s too late?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.