Paul George Welcomes Former Team, Oladipo & Sabonis Return
OKLAHOMA CITY - Paul George goes against his old team for the first time and Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis return to OKC with the suddenly high-flying Pacers. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It wasn’t the most amicable of partings between George and Indiana after the former made it clear he wouldn’t be re-signing with the organization once free agency hits. But, the four-time All-Star tweeted that he loves the state in August.
A month later, he told USA Today’s Sam Amick that the way the Pacers treated Danny Granger still rubs him the wrong way, calling out the team for trading away a player who had given “that organization everything he had and was essentially traded to the dogs.”
Alongside Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, George is surrounded by more talent than ever, even if the team is on a two-game slide. He’s leading the team in minutes (38 mpg) and steals (3.3 spg), second in scoring (21.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (5.7 rpg), but his shooting percentages are significantly down – 37.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three.
Actually, Russell Westbrook (42.9 percent) is out-shooting both George and Carmelo Anthony (28.0 percent) from deep, which would be mind-boggling if the season wasn’t just three games in. The reigning MVP is taking nine fewer shots per game as he learns how to play with the new surrounding cast.
And if you’re wondering about Anthony, the elder statesman in the starting lineup leads the Thunder in scoring at 23.7 ppg but has yet to find his shooting stroke. Anthony hasn’t yet logged a game in which he shoots .500 or better from the field, something he’s expected to do now that defenses can’t just focus on him.
The Pacers (2-2) average 118.5 points per game and are coming off a road win against Minnesota where they poured in 130. Oladipo leads the team in scoring at 23.8 ppg and Sabonis has been a huge help filling in for injured star Myles Turner, bringing 13.0 points and 9.5 rebounds to the table.
It’s too early to hit the panic button in OKC, but losing a third-straight game will definitely jump start the murmurs that this new trio isn’t going to work. The Thunder returns to Minnesota on Friday for the start of a three-game road trip.