Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dr. Hibbert's Operation

(inappropriate chuckle)
There were plenty of ways for the Pacers to tie up their series with the Wizards tonight. DC could come in without a killer instinct. Paul George could be the best player on the court. Lance Stephenson could have had one of those freakishly good games that he's capable of. George Hill and CJ Watson could bomb away from three. The Wiz could have lost someone to injury, gotten into big foul trouble (they really aren't that deep), gotten out-coached, and so on, and so on.

But all of those ways just allow the Pacers to get back to even. There was only one way for them to get beyond even, and actually look like the better team.

And that way was for Roy Hibbert, terrible for months, emasculated by any number of commentators, and seemingly lost in a malaise of befuddlement and insecurity, to be the best player on the floor. Which, well, he was.

How out of left field was this? Hibbert went for 28 and 9 tonight, with 2 blocks. He had scored 36 in the previous 8 (!) playoffs games in 2014. He was a perfect 8 for 8 from the line, never in foul trouble, didn't have any turnovers or foul trouble, was his team's best in plus/minus, and 10 of 13 from the field. By playing like he was the best center in the game, he even made the Pacer wings stay home on shooters, making the Wiz surprisingly bad from distance. Honestly, Pacer Fan has to be all verklempt right now. From dreading their team to thinking they could win it all, just from one game. And heck, there was even a watchable game, too!

So it's all sunshine and puppies for the Pacers, and if they get three more games like this, they'll advance, and become the team they were for the first 55 games of the year, when they were the best team in the East.

Except for, well, one big problem...

They nearly lost the game anyway.

While Hibbert was having his resurrection, Marcin Gortat was shooting 10 for 15 for the Wiz, en route to his own 21/11 line. The Wiz out-rebounded the home team by 5, had three more assists, and shot the same percentages. They didn't win because they didn't get to the line, or make when they were there (5 for 12, versus 18 of 21 for the Pacers), and because John Wall stunk up the joint (6/1/8 on 2 of 13 from the floor, with 4 fouls in 36 minutes).

So while this series seems to have changed a whole lot... um, not so much.

Besides, why should Hibbert show up in back to back games, when he didn't show up for the last two months?

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