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George Hill did everything possible in order to answer the bell for Game 4 but none of it worked.
The starting point guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers was forced to sit out Sunday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers because of back spasms.
Hill’s problems stemmed from an illegal screen levied on him in Game 1 by Indiana’s Trevor Booker. The spasms returned at halftime of Game 3 and forced him to the bench for the majority of the second half in a 92-90 loss.
Fortunately, veteran Jose Calderon started in Hill’s stead in Game 4 and the Cavaliers prevailed, 104-100, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to even the series. It was Calderon’s first postseason start since 2014 with the Dallas Mavericks and only his ninth start in 27 playoff games. He had five points, two rebounds and two assists in the victory.
Hill had an MRI Saturday, which showed no structural damage. The 31-year-old said this is the first time in 10 NBA seasons he’s experienced a back problem.
“As a player, you always want to be out there and play with your team,” Hill said before the game Sunday night. “We tried to do everything possible, even after the game (Friday night), getting treatment, trying to loosen it up, taking a shot and medicine in my butt.
“Even today, taking a shot earlier today in my back, another shot in the afternoon to try to loosen things up, but it’s just not loosening up in a day or so.”
Hill said the Cavaliers’ medical team though discretion was the better part of valor for him. Game 5 will be played Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
“They think it’s best to sit out today, to not prolong it, maybe give it these next couple days some rest and things like that to get back on Wednesday,” he said. “But as a competitor, it sucks.
“I’ve always wanted to be out there with the guys, win or loss. If we’re winning, I want to be a part, if we’re losing I want to be a part of it. It’s just the competitor that I am. It’s stinging right now to not be able to go out there and fight with them.”
Hill is appreciative of what the 36-year-old Calderon — who did not play in Game 3 — is able to do while he’s sidelined. With the win in Game 4, Cleveland is 24-9 in games Calderon starts this season.
“I’ve been a fan of Jose ever since he was in the NBA playing for Toronto,” Hill said. “I just think he’s a pick-and-roll guru, mid-range guru, started to knock down the 3 at a consistent clip. I know we won’t skip a beat.
“I know he has his teams in his best hands and he’s going to do a phenomenal job tonight. I know he’s a competitor and he’s ready to play and hopefully he can get this win out and get back home Wednesday and try to pull another one off.”