Pacers' George is expected to play
They were expecting him there all along.
The Pacers announced Friday night that George has been cleared "to return to normal basketball activity," a decision made three days after he was concussed in Game 2 of the Indiana-Miami series.
"Barring any unforeseen complications, he will play" on Saturday in Miami, the Pacers said.
The Heat now have a lineup decision to make.
Greg Oden - whose last postseason appearance was April 30, 2009 - may be inserted into the Heat rotation after showing Miami's coaches in recent days that back issues that slowed him down for weeks may finally be a thing of the past. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra suggested that Oden "could" get some minutes, which would almost certainly come against Indiana center Roy Hibbert.
"If Coach needs me, I'm ready to play," Oden said. "I'm definitely ready whenever he needs me."
The series is tied at a game apiece, with Miami grabbing the home-court edge away by rallying for an 87-83 win at Indianapolis in Game 2. The teams have been off since, which figures to be a blessing of sorts for the Pacers - who had several players limping and ailing late in that game, with George's concussion the most notable malady.
The back of George's head was struck by Dwyane Wade's knee as both were trying to get control of a loose ball during the fourth quarter of that game. George remained in the game but was basically a non-factor the rest of the way, and Miami owned the final minutes. The concussion came to light only after George revealed postgame that he briefly "blacked out."
"I probably should have kept that to myself," George said. "It just made a mess. That's something that, going forward, just keep that between myself and the training staff."
The Heat never even considered the possibility that George wouldn't play in Game 3.