Victor Oladipo ready to start in Indiana Pacers' first game at NBA restart

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has finally arrived at a decision.

After thoroughly examining how his body performed through a host of practices plus three scrimmage games, the two-time All-Star will join the squad for the remainder of the NBA restart, according to Pacers coach Nate McMillan.

Indiana will face the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in its first game back in Florida. Oladipo will be in the starting lineup under a minutes restriction in which McMillan, after speaking with the medical team, is looking to play him no more than 28-30 minutes.

"I've been focused on that the entire time. Victor, I know he made a statement but his approach to coming down with us and practicing has been as if he was going to play the game. I've had him working with the blue group as much as possible, that first unit," McMillan said. "Due to injuries, we've had to put that off for a little period of time with Malcolm [Brogdon] being out, Domas [Sabonis] being out, and Myles [Turner] missing a day or two, but he has worked with the blue unit, really the entire time that he's been here."

After successfully recovering from the coronavirus, Brogdon has been around the team but won't be available against Philadelphia because of a cervical strain. Aaron Holiday will start in his place alongside Oladipo, Turner, T.J. Warren and Justin Holiday. Sabonis has also been ruled out after leaving the NBA bubble last week to receive medical treatment for plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

"He did get hurt in the game. He went to the basket and one of the players fell on his neck and it's been stiff the last two days," McMillan said of Brogdon. "He's tried to do some running but he couldn't turn his neck. We're hoping that this will calm down in the next day or two and he will be available for our next game."

Oladipo, 28, initially ruled out a return for the NBA restart while continuing to rehab his quadriceps tendon, then later said there was a "strong possibility" his stance could change, but he remained noncommittal until now.

In three recent scrimmages, Oladipo shot 7-for-19 (37%) from the field while averaging 11.3 points per game, the fourth-best on the team in those contests.

Before the coronavirus pandemic suspended play, he appeared in 13 regular-season games while under a minutes restriction. He averaged 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in a career-low 25.9 minutes per game as he tried to work himself back into shape after an extended time off from the injury. He scored a season-high 27 points in his last game before the hiatus against Boston on March 10.

Oladipo said Friday he knows the history of players returning too soon or taking extended time to heal after injuries, such as Grant Hill and Kawhi Leonard, but hasn't reached out to anyone personally throughout the process.

"I don't try to look into things I really can't control. I think everybody and every situation is different. You've got to be smart obviously and listen to your body, but most importantly you've got to realize that things are different," Oladipo said. "They were different for me, they were different for Grant, they were different for Kawhi, they were different for everyone, right? So, at the end of the day, this is my situation. Of course, you can learn from everyone else's, you can try to take things and apply it to whatever situation you're in, but no one else has had this injury at my age.

"This is very, very rare, so right now I'm trying to figure things out just like everybody else had to figure what situation they were in out. Sure, I can ask them for advice, but essentially this is my knee and my body, my leg, and I've got to listen to how I respond because everyone responds differently."