Prior to last night’s Game Two win over the Wizards, the Pacers were down 1-0 in their second round series and went into Wednesday’s game needing a win desperately to prevent Washington from stealing two games in a row on the road.
Roy Hibbert — a 2014 Eastern Conference All-Star — made sure his team was not going to fall into a 2-0 hole and turned in his best performance of the postseason so far, scoring 28 points to go with nine rebounds. Considering the fact he had only 37 combined points in his first eight playoff games this year, Wednesday’s breakout showing was one both he and his team needed really badly.
The Wizards may have a decent center/power forward combo with Nene and Marcin Gortat, but they, defensively at least, were absolutely no match for the 7-foot-2 Hibbert, whose size gives him an advantage over most frontcourt players in the NBA. That is an advantage he has not used very often thus far in the playoffs, as he has already been held scoreless a few times, which is unacceptable for someone of his caliber.
By no means are the Pacers out of the woods yet, as they — by losing Game 1 at home at Bankers Life Fieldhouse — ceded homecourt advantage to the Wizards. Washington bring this series to our nation’s capital tied at one game apiece. Indiana, which took seven games to dispatch the No. 8 seed Atlanta Hawks in the first round, just has not played like itself lately, even though last night’s triumph was a step in the right direction.
The reason the Pacers have not been themselves in the postseason?
No one can really know for sure, but the continued good play of Paul George — even though he only scored 11 in Game Two — and hopeful resurgence of Hibbert are both really good signs for the Pacers and coach Frank Vogel, whose job might be at stake if Indy does not make it past Washington.
Regardless, if Hibbert keeps playing how he normally does, at a star-like level, the Pacers really should not have anything to be worried about. If otherwise, that may not be true.
The Pacers have struggled to string together consistent performances, Hibbert especially. He had 13 points in Game Seven agains the Hawks and appeared to turn a corner. That did not happen as he laid his goose egg in Game One against the Wizards.
Indiana — and the rest of the NBA, really — are still waiting to see which Hibbert and which Pacers team shows up on a nightly basis.