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During LeBron James’ run of dominance in the Eastern Conference, few players got to experience it as closely as Paul George when he was with the Indiana Pacers.
Appearing on JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast (starts at 1:05:00 mark), George explained the difficulty of trying to take on James and the Miami Heat at that point in time.
“We hit the fork in the road, where we went up against a team that was more talented, and just better than us. Our talent took us so far, but we were outmatched at that point.”
The Pacers and Heat had a brief but memorable rivalry from 2011 to ’14. They met in the playoffs in all three seasons, with the Heat winning every matchup. Lance Stephenson famously blew in James’ ear during Game 5 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.
Each of those three playoff series went to at least six games. The 2013 Eastern Conference Finals lasted seven games.
George played arguably the best postseason series of his career in the conference finals in 2013. He averaged 19.4 points on 44.1 percent shooting from three-point range, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
James took control of the decisive Game 7 with 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Miami’s 99-76 win.
The Heat went on to win the NBA Finals by beating the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. They had to win the final two games after falling behind 3-2 in the series. Game 6 is remembered for Ray Allen’s game-tying three with 5.2 seconds remaining to force overtime.
George spent three additional seasons with the Pacers after losing to Miami in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. They made the playoffs in each of his final two years with the club but lost in the first round both times, including a sweep at the hands of James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Pacers traded George to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in July 2017. He played two seasons for the Thunder before being dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers.