Roy Hibbert has been an offensive disappointment so far in this series, scoring 8 and 4 points in Games One and Two, respectively. This is baffling. Dwight Howard, as you may have noticed, is not playing for the Magic. Why can’t Roy dominate the midgets and Earl Clark that Orlando is putting out there to guard him?
Hoopspeak’s Brett Koremenos delivered the goods on the big man matchup so far in the series.
Glen Davis seems to have found his niche as an undersized five and despite padding Roy Hibbert’s block totals, he has been highly effective this series. What he lacks in vertical height and length, he makes up for with his girth and ability to anchor in the low post. Hibbert, who relies on deep positioning for much of his success, has found himself unable to get that prime real estate near the paint when Davis defends him. It has seemed as if moving Davis is like moving a tree stump, if that tree stump also was chained to four sedan-sized boulders. Without getting to a more favorable operating area, Hibbert has shot just 31.3% from the field so far this series, a far cry from his 49.7% during the regular season.
Now Hibbert has always been a liability in pick-and-roll coverage, but his post dominance has made him a net positive for Indiana. But with no offensive production thus far this series, he found himself on the bench for much of the second half in Game 2. He watched as either Lou Amundson or Tyler Hansbrough paired with David West to hold Orlando to only 34 second half points. So in an odd twist, the Magic actually ended up hurting themselves by nullifying the the deep Pacers’ primary threat and forcing Vogel to make an adjustment.
However, that’s not all the Hibbert situation brings into play. Another factor in the Magic’s futile second half performance was that Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson simply looked worn out. Anderson has sparred with West all series and Davis has to constantly battle Hibbert the minute he steps inside the 3-point arc on defense, set ball screens and roll the basket on offense, and hunt down as many rebounds as possible. This took a heavy toll as he played with noticeably less energy as the game wore on.
It’s great that Hibbert helped tire out Big Baby. But lets by honest: Baby gets tired out eating ribs.
Really, if Hibbert can’t become a part of this series on both ends of the court, it wouldn’t be a shock to find the Pacers going fishing before round two. His genetics unfortunately leave him top heavy: his torso is simply larger, stronger and heavier than his legs. This means that a guy like Glen Davis can easily get lower than Hibbert and muscle him around from the ground up. This isn’t some fatal flaw for Roy. Dwight is sort of built the same way and routinely faced similar difficulties, particularly in playoff series against the Celtics as Kendrick Perkins used to use push him around with his stronger thighs and hips.
But Roy has to find a way to get lower. His DNA and strength can be worked around. Some of it is just technique and focusing on staying low and maintaining balance. Hibbert is often shuffling around an slowly being knocked off position. He can’t let that happen.
Some of this can also be done by the offense. The Pacers can, like the Cavaliers used to routinely do for Brad Daugherty, who faced similar issues carving out space on the block, run cross screens that allow Hibbert to come through the lane on the baseline and set up shop low and rigid before Davis has time to push him off. They can also have Hibbert run pin-down screens for, say, Paul George and then just plant his ass in the paint. Swing the ball over to George and have him, quickly, dump the entry down to the big fella.
Roy may not be able to maintain position for a long time. But he has to be able to get it with his size. It then is on the perimeter guys to get him the ball before he is pushed off the spot.