Before Tip-Off: Pacers’ Hill returns to San Antonio


Driving into the AT&T Center, there was the usual array of fans dawning the silver and black jerseys tonight. Although instead of some of the number three jerseys showing the last name “Jackson,” tonight a few said “Hill.”

George Hill, who was drafted and began his career in San Antonio, is back in the Alamo City as the Indiana Pacers (2-1) prepare to face the Spurs (3-0).

It was known that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich once called Hill his “favorite” player, but today Hill’s current coach, Frank Vogel, appreciates having Hill in the Pacer blue.

“I love George as much as Pop does, probably more,” said Vogel, “if that’s possible. He’s a great team first guy, a great leader. I love that he plays both ends at such a high level, (yet) he’s one of the best defensive point guards in the league as well.”

When Hill took over in Indiana as the starting point guard late last season to relieve the injured Darren Collison, Vogel said Hill being a starter transformed the Pacers.

“We went from playing at a level 7, to maybe a level 9 or 10 with George as our point guard.”

As for Coach Popovich, he says he still follows Hill’s career closely these days, and he’s still rooting for the young guard out of IUPUI.

 “I’ve watched him closely. He was a team favorite,” said Popovich, “a fan favorite, a wonderful community guy. We’re always pulling for him to be successful.”

On the night that the Spurs faced the decision to trade Hill for the rights to Kawhi Leonard, Popovich had an interesting comment.

“We went back and forth a thousand times that night.”

Pregame Notes

·         According to Popovich, Manu Ginobili will play similar minutes to the minutes he received against the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

·         Per Vogel, Sam Young will start for the Pacers tonight against the Spurs for the injured Danny Granger, while Gerald Green will be coming off the bench.

·         Though Hill’s listed as day-to-day with a “Hip Pointer,” Coach Vogel said Hill will be ready to go tonight against the Spurs.