Imagine you're Paul George and you've been doing a yeoman's job for almost 82 games to get your hapless team into the playoffs. There you are, almost at the finish line, the goal in sight, and suddenly: ninth place. Your long time rival, the Tetsuo to your Kaneda as it were, LeBron James just bested you one again in a double-overtime game. What would you, Paul George, do?
I think you'd get pretty cheesed off, is what I think.
You -- the non-Paul George you -- almost wants to feel bad for George. He's fighting to stay relevant, he's saddled with guys like Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson, his team traded George Hill for Jeff Teague, then recently signed Lance Stephenson and thought it was a good idea that may save the season. These are the things that keep George up at night as he toils away, wasting years of his life trying to breath life back into a franchise that has returned to its moribund state. Yes, you could feel bad for the guy.
Except... you, like me, are a Raptors fan. There is no reason to feel sorry for Paul George. He is in the Raptors' way, and if he had had his way last year, would have gladly thrown the Raptors out of the post-season boat all by himself. This is a yeoman who should be left to toil in anonymity for all time. He cares not for the destiny of Toronto.
The Raptors have everyone back tonight -- except Kyle Lowry -- since we're working from the assumption P.J. Tucker, the team's stalwart defensive presence, will play. There is no reason Toronto should not dismantle this useless Pacers team. Except for the mere presence of one: Paul George, the forgotten superstar, the man who would lead his people out of misery, out of ninth place. He will be desperate tonight.
And since you are not Paul George, you understand what's got to happen.
Now check in with Matt Teague's preview and let's get to it in the comments.