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George Hill prepares to head to his ‘bat cave,’ grateful to be on the same side as LeBron James

INDEPENDENCE, OHIO– George Hill knows what it is like to get eliminated in the postseason by LeBron James.

For three straight years, he experienced it firsthand as a member of the Indiana Pacers when James was with the Miami Heat.

“At the end of the year it sucked,” Hill said on Thursday of those matchups. “You go home and you’re so close. Almost three straight years we got put out by them. It happens. I hated to be a part of it, but it was fun being in that situation in that moment. I learned a lot from it. I got to play one of the best teams in that Miami team the last couple years. We could never get over that hump. It was like the old days with (Michael) Jordan and (Scottie) Pippen and (Dennis) Rodman and them. We just ran across a three-headed monster that year. It is what it is.”

But now, Hill will get the chance to play for a title, (something he surely did not expect as he began the year with the Sacramento Kings) alongside the biggest head from that three-headed monster. Hill and James have come a long way from those Miami-Indiana series. And now, they will both have a chance to go after that title on the same side.

“The good thing is we got the best player in the world playing for us,” Hill said. “So I’m very excited about that. I don’t get to get put out by him this year, which I did a lot in my career. So, I’m happy to be on the other side.”

The first step to that title will be through his old team. It was clear on Thursday that Hill is looking forward to playing in front of his family and against his friends. He and Pacers star Victor Oladipo, an All-Star and candidate for Most Improved Player, were teammates for an Indiana pro-am game when the latter was still in college.

But no matter who the competition is, it’s the stage that matters most to Hill.

“I love this time of year, playoffs,” he said. “I feel like that’s when I play my best ball and things like that. Earlier in the year I didn’t think it was possible, so I’m happy for the opportunity.

“It just means a little bit more. It’s all the marbles on the line and everyone is watching you, your guys as one of 16 teams that are in it and fighting for one common goal and that’s to win a championship, so for me it’s exciting to be a part of but it’s that time of year when you kind of go into your little bat cave and figure things out and play the best ball you possibly can for two months.”

As he preps for the Cavs playoff run, Hill will be making routine changes, something that most NBA coaches and players do to help maximize focus. For Hill, it’s about emptying his “clutter box” to help him eliminate outside distractions.

“Phone, listening to media, whatever it is,” he said. “I don’t do that already, some players do, but focusing on social media issues and things like that. Just clear your mind and get away from everything and focus on basketball.

“Get rid of all the things that are a distraction and get my rest. Preparation is a big thing and sleep is a big thing. It’s an opportunity for me to win a championship and you take advantage of the opportunities in front of you because you never know when that opportunity is going to come again.”

Ashley is a former basketball player who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indians and high school sports for NEO Sports Insiders. She also covers the Cavs for SB Nation's Fear The Sword. Ashley is a 2015 graduate of John Carroll University and previously worked in political journalism. You can follow her on Twitter @AshleyBastock42

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