Indiana Pacers – The Center They Need

Pacers beat Wizards

The flowchart of these playoffs have turned Roy Hibbert into one of the most talked about players in the nation, mostly negative things. In game of the conference semifinals, he put all the criticisms and problems behind him to have a huge night, helping out the Indiana Pacers even things with the Washington Wizards after two games, winning 86-82.

All the jokes about 0 points and 0 rebounds might have done something to Hibbert. He had a good game when they closed out the series against the Hawks, and after an awful game 1, he looked like the center that made the All-Star game this season. He finished with 28 points and 9 rebounds. At his best, Hibbert is usually the barometer between a good and bad Pacers team, which he was in this game.

It wasn’t enough to make the Pacers run away with the game. Five minutes to go, the Wizards were still up by three. Hibbert wasn’t as dominant on the defensive side and the Wizards were getting plenty of Marcin Gortat, Nene and Bardley Beal. But then the notorious defense started doing its job, and forced the Wizards to take shots from five feet further on average than previously in the game.

Like in most of his big playoff games, Hibbert spent most of his offensive mojo in the early goings. He had 17 points in the first half as the Pacers kept going to him in the post. After getting only one post up possession in game 1, Hibbert got the ball in a post up position 16 times during his 33 minutes. He finished the game with 10-of-13 from the field, almost matching his playoff points total from the previous seven games.

It wasn’t just Hibbert, as the other questionable starter, George Hill, scored 14 points and did a good job in helping out on John Wall. Lance Stephenson saved his big baskets for late in the game to finish with 12 points while both Paul George and David West had offensive games they’d both like to forget about. Someone else who’d love to forget about the game is John Wall who finished with only 6 points on 2-of-13 from the field, being unable to get shots near the basket and turning the ball over in a last chance possession for the Wizards to cap off an awful performance.

Now the question is whether or not Roy Hibbert is here to stay, or will he fold back into his shell in game 3, playing away from home. The Pacers, as it has been proven in this postseason numerous times, must have him in decent form on both ends of the floor to make their way through the hurdles. Ian Manhimi isn’t a reliable replacement and the Andrew Bynum gamble, just like the one on Evan Turner, seems to have exploded in their faces.

Defense will get this team far, nothing else. Few teams can keep moving forward and winning while still shooting so badly from the field, but if they’re able to keep the Wizards’ players out of the paint and especially force John Wall to keep on taking bad shots which makes it harder for everyone to get involved, then maybe having so few players in genuine good shooting form won’t be such a huge obstacle to overcome.

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