Paul George, Monta Ellis could start in all 82 games

Paul George has the opportunity to do something special, something noteworthy Wednesday night in Milwaukee. The team has already clinched a playoff spot for the fifth time in six seasons and secured the seventh seed to matchup against Toronto.

But, if he plays, he will have played in every single game this season — all 82 — his first full season back from a compound leg fracture.

Paul George has led the team in scoring this season: 23.1 points per game, plus 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists. [Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

Paul George has led the team in scoring this season: 23.1 points per game, plus 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists. [Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

“Yeah I might check in for like … start the game out and pick up a quick six fouls,” George joked following the team’s 102-90 win over New York. “It’s good to be in this position, to know that if I have to I can play. It’s not like an injury is sitting me out the last game. I could play all 82. That’s a good thing to think about.”

George said all of this before their playoff seed and opponent became official. About 15 minutes later, Miami downed the Pistons to make it official. Therefore, Wednesday’s game doesn’t mean anything other than their final regular season record for the season, currently 44-37.

To have the chance to play in all 82 games is a great accomplishment for George. It was one his goals before training camp in September.

“It’d be awesome,” he said. “The year I had, coming back and know that I played every game and I gave this team everything.”

It’ll ultimately be up to the training staff and head coach Frank Vogel, who shared Tuesday night that George is playing through a bone bruise on his left foot.

“We’ll let you know tomorrow,” Vogel said several times after Tuesday’s game regarding his intent to resting players. Again, this was before their playoff matchup was finalized.

My feeling is that George will suit up, start, and check out early into the game. He’ll be able to say he was one of only 22 players (at most) to participate in every game, one of about a dozen to start all 82.

George, in his sixth NBA season, played in every game just one other time — the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season where they trimmed the season to 66 games.

Last year, Solomon Hill was the only Pacers player to do so.

Meanwhile, PG-13 isn’t the only one in the Pacers’ locker room with the chance to play in every game on their schedule. Monta Ellis, the oldest player on the team, could start all 82 games for the third time in his last four seasons. Last year in Dallas, he sat out two games — one for rest and one with a lower-right leg injury in Indiana, of all places.

Ellis joined the Pacers last July on a $44 million deal over four years.

Monta Ellis is one of five Pacers averaging in double figures at 13.8 points per game. [Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

Monta Ellis is one of five Pacers averaging in double figures at 13.8 points per game. [Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

“I’m blessed to be able to play 82,” Ellis said. “I’ve been keeping my body up. (Trainers) Josh [Corbeil] and Carl [Eaton] have been doing a great job. (Strength coaches) Shawn [Windle] and Andy [Martin] in the weight room, and me with the effort and putting in the time to be able to play 82 games is amazing. It’s part of my job and something I take pride in.”

I asked Ellis, who turned 30 in October, if he takes more pride in this feat the older he gets.

“It is. But I’m only 30 so, it’s not like I’m 37,” he joked. “I got a long way to go. 30 is no different than 25 to me. When I get up to like 35, then we can talk about that. I’m still young.

Ellis is all for playing Wednesday, even with their playoff seed locked up.

“I don’t (want to sit),” he replied. “We’ll see how that plays out. I don’t believe that one game is going to make a big difference. We’ll still have two or three days before we play our first game. I think we can get our rest and manage our time and practices.

“… I just hate watching basketball on the sidelines. If coach came to me tomorrow and said that he wanted us to sit out and rest, I just have to respect that and understand that it was a coach’s decision and not from an injury.”

The earliest that the 2016 NBA Playoffs would begin is on Saturday, April 16. Their first two games will be across the border in Toronto.

“I think the game tomorrow we have to sharpen up a little more, get our mind ready,” Ellis said, before their seeding was set. “Get this win and try to make it a blowout so we can get some rest and get ready for the playoffs.”

All that said, Rakeem Christmas, who was with their D-League affiliate — the Fort Wayne Mad Ants — for the most of the season, is just hoping to suit up and check in so he can say that he played in an NBA game during his rookie season.

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