Career game results in a podium game for Ian Mahinmi

For the first time ever, Ian Mahinmi talks to reporters on a dais after the Pacers' Game 4 win.

For the first time ever, Ian Mahinmi talks to reporters on a dais after the Pacers’ Game 4 win.

This was all new to Ian Mahinmi. His production level on the offensive end and addressing reporters on a dais for the world to see on NBA.com.

You see, that’s what happens when you have the best game of your career in the playoffs.

22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in 33 minutes. It was also his first postseason double-double.

“He’s become a great finisher around the the basket and we saw that tonight,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said following their 100-83 Game 4 victory. “He was big on the offensive glass and he’s a great, versatile defender. It was just a great all-around performance.”

In addition to the job he did on the offensive end, he helped lead the charge in containing Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas. The Lithuanian scored 16 points, but only grabbed six rebounds. The Pacers won the rebounding battle, 43-40, and converted 15 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.

The win knotted this first-round battle at 2-2, so it now is a best-of-three series.

[Quotable: Pacers and Raptors after Game 4]

Mahinmi explained months ago how this was his toughest season yet because of the number of injuries that have bothered him. He missed 10 regular-season games total for four different injuries — back, knee, heel, and ankle — and in another game, he needed eight stitches around his left eyebrow.

There were questions early on in the series how effective he could be because of a sore lower back. Four hours before Game 4, he was listed as questionable. He wouldn’t say several days ago how much pain he was in or if he would get a shot to relieve it. That was after he sat out of practice prior to Game 3.

“It’s not the best right now,” he said after impressing in Game 4. “I’m going through ups and downs. There are times when I feel 100 percent, and times less. It is what it is.”

Mahinmi works on his free throws after practice this week.

Mahinmi works on his free throws after practice this week.

He showed up big time Saturday and somehow managed to play through the pain. It was obvious, especially early on, that he was laboring through it. Still, he kept on.

Perhaps the energy in the building, which was electric, and importance of the game kept it out of his mind.

“It’s incredible,” Myles Turner, who made his first postseason start, said of Mahinmi persevering through the pain.

“I told him he literally put the team on his back tonight and did what he had to do. Whenever Ian plays that way, whenever George [Hill] plays the way that he (did), it takes pressure off PG. If we all share it the way we did today, I feel like we’re an unstoppable team.”

Mahinmi scored on nine of his 14 field goals in 33 minutes. Two of those misses were bunnies at the rim that he’d like to have back.

“You wouldn’t expect to see that from Ian but he played amazing for us,” Paul George said, noting his line on the boxscore. “That’s what we need. Half of that is amazing for us so for him to go beyond that, it’s definitely icing on the cake.”

Entering today’s game, Mahinmi had reached double figures just once in 52 playoff games. That was all the way back in 2012 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. His postseason-high with Indiana was … seven points. The Frenchman had been their backup center playing about 18 minutes per game until this year.

He stepped into the starting lineup and had the best season of his career. Mahinmi even earned three third-place votes for the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award.

“It’s a good feeling,” Mahinmi said of the moment, after his journey through the league that included a few years in the D-League. “I feel like it’s been a long journey for me. It’s not over, it’s still a lot of basketball to be played. I feel like I’ve been in every position throughout my career and it’s a lot of work. I worked a lot to be able to help my team with that type of performance.”

Being the selfless player that he is, Mahinmi credited his teammates for his big day.

“I can’t take credit for this today,” he said. “Most of my shots were dunks and shots under the rim where I just had to go up and dunk it. Today, my teammates really, really did an awesome job of finding me and today was a total team effort.”

While keeping the Raptors to 36.5 percent shooting, the Pacers shot 47 percent and assisted on 24 of their 40 field goals. Mahinmi, along with George Hill and Paul George tallied at least 19 points each.

After the game, Mahinmi showered and then got suited up. Don’t be fooled —  his sharp look isn’t anything new. He’s been the best-dressed Pacers player since his arrival in 2012. And the white dress shirt is a French Deal product so he was wearing at least one item from his French fashion company.

Mahinmi was interviewed by a French reporter at his locker before his time in front of dozens of reporters and numerous cameras.

As Mahinmi walk through the back entrance, took the two steps onto the dais, he turned to Pacers Public Relations Director David Benner and said “This is pretty cool. I haven’t been in here before.”

This press conference room, connected to the Pacers’ locker room, is where Vogel addresses reporters after every home game, and three-time All-Star Paul George does in the playoffs to accommodate the larger media presence.

Mahinmi then took his seat at the rectangular table with a green skirt and asked, “Don’t they have like, Gatorade stuff usually over here, like the bars?”

This was a special moment for the 29-year-old center. He had podium game on this day.

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