In the Orlando series, Roy Hibbert became a defensive anchor for the Pacers in the paint. This hasn’t changed against the Heat. He is, however, getting into foul trouble much quicker in the second round. In just four games he already has 16 personal fouls as opposed to 17 in his five games against the Magic. This doesn’t really come as a huge surprise considering the Heat’s ability to draw fouls; they are 2nd in the NBA’s postseason so far, drawing 29.5 a game.
But for the Heat, which were only 8th during the regular season drawing 24.2 a game, this is a significant jump. LeBron seems to have stopped settling for jump shots and is being much more aggressive than he was before the playoffs began. During the regular season he was only getting to the line 8.1 times a games as compared to 11.0 a game in the playoffs.
What this means for Roy Hibbert is that he’s going to need to be extra careful to not pick up fouls early on. In the past, fouling out was something he struggled with fairly consistently until he learnt to jump straight up. Against a team like the Heat, Roy is unlikely to get that benefit of jumping straight up.
In Game 4 when Roy got a personal foul against against Haslem with 2:51 left in the second. I was surprised to find out that it was only his first. I thought that the Pacers would be in great shape because the Pacers’ center would be able to stay on the floor longer than usual. But then Hibbert got another minutes later on what can only be considered a foolish decision to surrender a foul against a driving Dwyane Wade without even going for a shot block.
Then, after the half, Roy picked up another quick two fouls before the five-minute mark in the third quarter. His fourth foul — an offensive charge on Shane Battier — especially was one he has to be careful not to get himself into. Without him protecting the paint, Lebron and D-Wade started to take charge, and by the time Roy re-entered the game, it was (pretty much) too late to slow the pace.
I can’t stress how important Hibbert has been this series or why it’s so important for him to make sure he’s able to stay in the game.
Throughout game four whenever Roy Hibbert has been on the court, the Miami Heat have been outscored by 11.3 points (per 48 min). When he is on the bench, the Heat have scored 18.5 more points (per 48 min).
As if that stat alone doesn’t tell you how important Roy Hibbert is, there are many more.
Lou Amundson and Tyler Hansbrough have been struggling at doing there main jobs this postseason, which is rebounding.In the regular season, Lou grabbed 16.8% of all available rebounds, but that has dropped to 13.8% in his time on the court in the postseason. Tyler’s drop hasn’t been as precipitous, only falling from 11.3% in the regular season to 11.1% in the playoffs. But Hansbrough’s offensive rebounding has falled off a cliff, plummeting from 8.6% in the regular season to 6.0% in the postseason. Lou has been even worse in that regard, falling from an impressive offensive rebounding percentage of 14.1% over 753 regular-season minutes to a measly 7.6% in the playoffs.
To make matters worse, it’s offensive rebounds specifically that they are giving up. When Roy Hibbert has been in the game during the playoffs, the Pacers only give up 11.7 offensive rebounds per 48 minutes. When he sits, that number balloons 17.0.
In Game 4 when Roy Hibbert left the game the Pacers trailed by 1 point. Immediately when Roy left the game, LeBron and D-Wade started driving to the basket without hesitation. “Why would they be quicker to drive with Roy Hibbert off the floor?” you ask. How about because the Heat are shooting 52% from the restricted area (10% less than their avg) when Roy is on the floor compared to 65% when he’s on the bench.
Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty damn good reason.
In Game 3 Roy Hibbert only had four fouls. His third came only with 3:28 left in the third quarter, and the fourth foul came after the game was already decided. The result? A Tim Duncan-like performance. Interestingly enough, after that game, Roy talked about his relationship with Tim and how he learns a lot from him. Roy said that he models his game after him, and I can definitely see the similarities so far. Aside from the fundamentals and footwork over flash approach they take to the game, they seem to have a similar demeanor (few emotions, cool headed, etc.).
While many might say that Danny Granger is the Pacers’ best offensive scorer or that David West is their most important offensive player, Roy Hibbert is their most important all around player. He is the key to slowing down LeBron and D-Wade; he is they key to defending the paint. Without Roy the Pacers would be struggling mightily in this series. If Roy Hibbert stay out of foul trouble and stay in the game, he has the potential to tip the series in Indiana’s favor.