Paul George stripper, catfish rumors and Roy Hibbert poor play have Pacers on upset alert in Round 1? [VIDEO]
Early in the 2013-2014 season the Indiana Pacers seemed nearly invincible, tearing through opponents in the East and West with terrorizing defense and star Paul George looking like one of the Top 3 players in the NBA. Over the final month and change of the regular season though, the Pacers have stumbled and may even be upset bait early on.
The cracks began showing when rumors of George impregnating a stripper, then offering her $1 million to have an abortion surfaced. He addressed them, and they died down to an extent, but then he got caught up in a "catfishing" incident.
NSFW photos of George wound up leaking and rumors swirled he was tricked by a gay man into sending them. George addressed this as well, saying he was not catfished and did know the woman responsible. Still, George was vaguely scolded by team leader David West in the media for his immaturity.
George swore up and down the off-court issues wouldn't affect his play but the stats tell a different story. Since March, George has made just 38 percent of his shots from the field, 32 percent from 3-point land, and his scoring has dipped to 19.6 points per game in that span.
From October through November, he averaged 23.6 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field, and 40 percent from 3-point range.
His decline has been matched, though, by that of center Roy Hibbert. The frustrated center is scoring just 7.6 points and grabbing 3.4 rebounds in March and April, down from December highs of 13.4 points and 7.6 boards.
There's no real off-court incident to point to, but Hibbert's been visibly angered by his lack of touches on offense, and lashed out at "selfish" teammates recently. "Some selfish dudes in here," Hibbert said after a loss to the Wizards. "Some selfish dudes. I'm tired of talking about it. We've been talking about it for a month."
Hibbert did not name names, but clearly the increased shots from George, Lance Stephenson, and newcomer Evan Turner have come at the cost of the big man. Even if Indiana's chemistry issues persist, a first-round ouster is unlikely.
That said, the winner of the Brooklyn Nets-Chicago Bulls series will likely not be such a small hurdle unless they get right.