While Roy Hibbert's recent struggles are far from a secret, the media, both local and national have made it a point that everyone is well aware of these struggles. We some times complain here in the non-coastal regions of the United States that we don't get the media coverage of people in the big coastal cities, so we have nothing to complain about in the coverage of that well documented fact. It is hard to watch a game without a constant Roy Hibbert commentary going on, regardless of the station. And while he is having an abysmal playoffs, he is not single handedly bringing the Pacers to their grave. Our beloved Blue and Gold are struggling as a whole right now and while it may seem like Hibbert is the reason, he is simply the poster child for systemic struggles.
If you want to know why the Pacers lost game one last night, look no further than the 53-36 rebounding statistic. Now, while many of Pacers fan is shaking their finger at Roy Hibbert, lets talk about how many rebounds of those he was responsible for. During the regular season, Roy was averaging about 6.6 boards per game. On a night where he only plays 19 minutes due to foul... 4 is probably a more fair number to assume he will get. Now while he did get 0 rebounds last night, which is a little embarrassing for a guy who is 7'2". That hasn't been his job for the majority of the year. His job is to contest the shot when a guy drives so PG, West, and Lance can get the rebound and run. But while Roy was riding pine with 4 fouls, Drew Gooden had about 5 Offensive Rebounds over David West in 3 trips down the court resulting in David West getting frustrated and picking up a technical. That's not Roy's fault... that's an issue of hustle... who wants the ball more... and on those 3 possessions, to anyone watching, it was easy to see that Gooden did. For those of you saying, "why are you picking on West, he's one of our best guys right now!?" I couldn't agree more. But just because you are playing better than everyone else doesn't mean you get a pass. The TEAM is losing, so the TEAM is getting criticized.
And West isn't the only one who needs criticized. Someone, and by someone I mean Larry Bird, needs to talk to Vogel about strategy and adapting. He just finished a series where the Pacers were pushed to the brink by a team that likes to go small and spread the floor. You would think he would have adjustments ready made for another team who is willing to spread the floor with bigs who can shoot. What does Vogel do, he leaves one of the key bench players, Chris Copeland' in the final 3 games of the Atlanta series on the bench for all but a minute. Ian Mahinmi was nearly as affected as Roy with 2 points and 0 boards in 12 minutes, where is the outcry that he played to much? Is Vogel going to wait til game 6 when the Pacers need 2 wins to make an adjustment then? Is he going to start laying into some guys about their effort or is going to say that they got down on themselves early when their shots aren't going in. This is the playoffs Frank, and while you were able to Roy playing some outstanding basketball last year that forced the other teams to adjust, now it is your turn. Adjust! Put him in in situations where he can get a little rhythm. See if anyone in your top 8 can actually throw an entry pass. He can't score if he doesn't get the ball. Do whatever you need to do to get Roy's head back on straight, because the Pacers will go as far as the starting 5 take them, and with Roy in this funk you are fighting an uphill fight. You need Roy to win a championship Frank. do what you need to do to get him back.
PG has got to step up and hit more big shots, 4-15 doesn't cut it. Hill can't disappear on offense, he had big nights in almost all the Pacers wins. Lance has got to quit getting dumb T's and the bench, outside of Watson, needs to regain their preplayoff form where they can put up double digits when they get the chance. And of goodness sake can we stop throwing the ball to the other team... Our turnover rate is absolutely atrocious. So Pacers fans, we all know Roy is playing bad right now. But that is is an easy excuse, a low hanging fruit, to why the Pacers are failing. Roy Hibbert doesn't make up that -17 rebound differential... not by himself at least. Nor is he responsible for all those turnovers. Or those wide open transition 3's. While Roy's 0/0 night was particularly bad... the Pacers as a team didn't do enough to win last night. Simple as that. So lay off you big center for a bit (because no one else will) because he has been prone to slump, particularly when he wants to succeed the most (Folks he went to sports shrink and was this bad for long stretches early last season) and realize the Pacers have a lot of things to work on if they want to win this series... including getting the big fella right.
Thanks for reading,
-T.O. signing out