George Hill's out, meaning D.J. Augustin will need to step up. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBA/Getty Images)
The Indiana Pacers will be without starting point guard George Hill in Thursday's Game 5 against the New York Knicks, Pacers director of media relations David Benner announced a little more than 90 minutes before tip-off at Madison Square Garden:
Pacers guard George Hill will miss tonight's game in NYwith a concussion. He sustained the injury in Tuesday's game
— David Benner (@PacersDMB) May 16, 2013
Pacers coach Frank Vogel told reporters that Hill is day-to-day after being diagnosed with a concussion, which Vogel said he sustained during a first-half collision with Knicks center Tyson Chandler. We don't know specifically when it happened, but midway through the first quarter, Hill went down hard after a Chandler screen:
Hill got up, continued playing and was great for the Pacers in Game 4, scoring a game-high 26 points on 9 for 14 shooting with four assists and three rebounds in a 93-82 win that gave Indiana a commanding 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals series. That Hill played perhaps the best game of his five-year NBA career with a concussion is both remarkable and alarming.
Depending on the severity of his symptoms and the caution with which he and the Pacers' medical team treats the injury, the concussion could also prove to be a major moment in this series. Hill has provided sound two-way play for coach Frank Vogel throughout the first four games against New York, averaging 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in this series while also playing a key role in both deterring dribble penetration from the Knicks' guards and closing space on New York shooters to prevent clean, open 3-point looks.
In Hill's absence, the Pacers figure to rely more heavily on backup point guard D.J. Augustin, who has played well off the bench thus far in this series (8.5 points in 16.2 minutes per game, shooting 58.8 percent from the floor and 60 percent from 3-point range), but hasn't had to assume primary responsibility for getting Indiana into and out of its sets. Starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson, starting small forward Paul George and reserve guard Ben Hansbrough could all see time on the ball as well, Vogel told reporters.
Heading into Game 5, Hill and several of his Pacers teammates said they'd need to be "perfect" and play an "extraordinary" game to eliminate the Knicks on their home floor and advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Losing Hill will certainly make that task more difficult tonight.
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