Shortly before the start of the playoffs, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pulled guard George Hill aside and issued marching orders only he could understand.

Once the postseason began, Popovich said, he wanted the mild-mannered Hill to transform into an alter ego named Indiana George.

"Pop means Indiana George from back in Indianapolis," Hill said. "Just being a freak of nature on offense."

In the other huddle in this first-round series, running point guard for Memphis, is a player who knows Indiana George well.

"That guy," Mike Conley said, "was lethal."

Growing up within a few miles of each other in Indianapolis, as friends and adversaries, Hill and Conley never dreamed they would one day leave a mark on the same NBA playoff series.

Memphis won Game 1 in part because Conley, a 23-year-old playoff tenderfoot, went toe-to-toe with Tony Parker, the Spurs' three-time All-Star. The Spurs evened the series in Game 2 in part because Indiana George came through with a 14-point second half.

The two hoopsters from the Hoosier state go way back, central figures in an Indianapolis basketball tradition that now fills half an NBA roster.

Now 24, Hill was once a ?scoring star at Broad Ripple High, a city school without much of a basketball reputation, where he averaged a state-leading 36.2 points as a senior in 2005 before playing college ball at hometown IUPUI.

Indiana George was fearless, with a you-can't-stop-me-or-even-hope-to-contain-me swagger. Indiana George didn't care who was on the floor with him, or who was assigned to guard him.

Indiana George once scored 49 points in a high school game, without stepping foot on the court in the fourth quarter.

"He could score in so many different ways," said Conley, who watched Hill tie his NBA career-high of 30 points in his last trip to Memphis on March 27. "Nobody could stop him."

Conley played at Lawrence North, a prestigious suburban hoops factory where he wasn't even the most famous player in the Class of 2006. Before he became a limping cautionary tale, Greg Oden would go on to be Indiana's Mr. Basketball, a consensus collegiate player of the year alongside Conley at Ohio State and the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.