Hibbert’s Offense The Difference In Pacers’ Game 3 Victory

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Series hub | Game 3: Notebook | Box score

INDIANAPOLIS – For the second time in the conference semifinals series between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, Indy center Roy Hibbert was the best player on the floor. And this time, he didn’t block a single shot. In fact, he barely contested any. And he had fewer defensive rebounds (four) than any of the Pacers’ other four starters.

Now, let’s get this straight. It’s not like Hibbert didn’t have a defensive impact in the Pacers’ 82-71, Game 3 victory. It was New York’s second-lowest scoring output of the season. The Knicks’ three 3-pointers and 11 3-point attempts were both season lows. And the 7-foot-2 center obviously had a lot to do with that.

But guess what? The Pacers are the best defensive team in the league. This is what they do. They don’t double team and they stay at home on New York’s shooters. The Knicks have now attempted 20 or fewer threes in seven games this season, and three of the seven were against Indiana.

So while Hibbert was as much of a rim protector as he’s been all year and Paul George deserves a ton of credit for his defense on Carmelo Anthony in Game 3, it was Hibbert’s work on the offensive end of the floor that made the difference in what was a very ugly 48 minutes of Eastern Conference playoff basketball. Emphasis on the word “work.”

Remember Hibbert’s brutal offense at the start of this season? Through Dec. 31, he was shooting 39 percent, with the free throw rate of a pass-first point guard. Though he was the most critical part of the Pacers’ No. 1 defense, he wasn’t exactly living up to the max contract extension he received last summer.

Hibbert will never be mistaken for Hakeem Olajuwon in the post. He’s neither quick nor smooth. But his offense is getting better. He averaged 16.7 points on 50 percent shooting in March and April. He scored at least 14 points in six of the Pacers’ first seven playoff games.

And in Game 3 of the conference semifinals, a game in which the league’s leading scorer played 37 minutes, Roy Hibbert had more points than anybody.

Hibbert looked comfortable in the low post, using his height to launch jump hooks with either hand over Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin. He made quick decisions and he even took Chandler off the dribble from the elbow a couple of times. He was a true post presence, creating his own offense, not really benefiting from his teammates’ penetration.

“He made some good moves down low,” Chandler said, “but we were supposed to trap him when he got the ball, and we didn’t do that.”

Still, the Knicks forced the Pacers to shoot just 35 percent and commit another 17 turnovers. Their primary defense was pretty good. But a defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. And that was the difference on Saturday.

Both teams shot 35 percent. The Knicks had two fewer turnovers and two more free throw attempts. But their 3-point shooting was absent and they got beat up on the glass.

It helped that the Knicks were double-teaming (well, except when they weren’t, according to Chandler) and leaving themselves vulnerable underneath. But they were the fourth best defensive rebounding team in the league in the regular season, even though they rarely had two bigs on the floor at the same time.

The Pacers were the league’s fourth best offensive rebounding team, and that ranking has clearly held up better in this series. They’ve totaled 20 second-chance points in each of their two wins, and they already have more offensive rebounds in the three games (36) than Boston had in its six playoff games against New York (31).

Size matters. The Pacers are the bigger team and they’re showing it. Hibbert is leading the way with 16 of those 36 offensive boards, eight of them in Game 3.

“He got a lot of his stuff just out of pure effort on the offensive glass,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We know he’s going to dominate on the defensive end. When he has offensive production like he did tonight, then we’re pretty good.”

They’re pretty good and they’re now up 2-1.

22 Comments

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  2. Carol says:

    Roy did have a couple of blocks inthe game but these refs choice to ignore the principles of verticality and called them fouls instead. No biggie it was nice to see Roy enjoying himself.

  3. yahawee says:

    I think that the New York knicks still have injurires to there centers they are not complaining, they are giving it a go . It wll go to game seven , the pacers are doing what they suppose to do at home. Home advange counts to the to Four seeds

  4. D.J. MURPHDAWG says:

    #BLUECOLLAR #GOLDSWAGGER FOR THE HATERS THAT DONT KNOW ABOUT THE INDIANA PACERS! YALL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO SEE US! KINDA LIKE OUR TEAM TO BE UNDER THE RADAR! WE HAVE A TEAM WHO SHARES THE BALL! MOST TEAMS HAVE THEIR ONE OR TWO SCORERS THEY DEPEND ON! MY INDIANA TEAM YOU DONT KNOW WHO IS GOING TO SCORE 20 POINTS! WITH THAT BEING SAID GO PACERS! READY FOR THAT GRUDGE MATCH AGAINST THOSE CRY BABIES! YALL KNOW WHO IM TALKING ABOUT BUT IF YOU DONT IM TALKING BOUT THE CRYAMI HEAT!

  5. Kris Wayne says:

    the Pacers are a real threat in the east! Hope NY would bounce back! This is going to be a long series!

  6. littleteapot says:

    People always talk about Chandler and Martin like they are these elite defenders (Chandler even won DPOY, which is absurd to me), but big men always seem to play better against them then against other teams. Did anyone see what real defensive centers like Noah can do? He shut down Brook Lopez while still doing all the things the Bulls ask him to do to help with talented guards. Chandler was lucky with the Mavs that he had Sean Marion and DeShawn Stevenson to help him out, but otherwise I don’t think he’s even above average. And blaming it on the lack of double teams? If Chandler was really one of the best defensive centers, he could play Hibbert straight up almost the whole night AND help on drivers. When Ben Wallace went up against guys like Shaq and Duncan, did he ever complain that his teams didn’t double them enough?

  7. JimD54 says:

    The Pacers have the Knicks right where they want them and will easily win this round, but when they play the Heat next round they will be cheated to the high heavens, the Heat will average 35 free throws a game, count on it.

    • Carol says:

      Are you saying that by putting players in that hadn’t seen the floor all year to ruff up the pacers and kill their spirit last year that they were cheated.

    • Pakyaw says:

      @jimd54, before u put any comment , ask yourself this one first,..is the pacer is a better team than the heat? Can the pacer beat the heat 4 times?..u know, excuses is one of the main ingredient of being a LOSSER..u know that right?..

  8. W/E says:

    The difference?The Knicks couldnt rebound or hit anything, AND of course their “best scorers” Curmelo and J.R Shmith CHOKING BIG TIME like they always do in the playoffs.

  9. Zac says:

    no love lost for both teams, but the pacers have a better shot at miami

  10. Fefe (Nets) says:

    GO PACERS: you need to be up 3-1. I predicted 4-2 for Indiana before the series even began (unliked many who predicted that NY will win it quite “easily”) – so I hope Indiana wins and we’ll have a rematch of last year’s conference semifinals between Indiana and Miami!

  11. KR450 says:

    I don’t watch a lot of Pacers games so maybe this is the norm and I’m not aware of it, but it’s nice to see a player like Hibbert, a guy who can show his enjoyment at making plays and having a good game without arrogance. His smiles through game three looked like a guy who was genuinely happy to be out there playing. A refreshing sight and a good win to Indiana, they played great, tough defence and their offensive rebounding was outstanding, especially against a team with tough interior defenders like Chandler and Martin.

    • nbapacersfan says:

      @ KR450… Hibbert has a tendency to get down on himself when his shot isn’t falling. That was the case for the first half of this season… not many smiles. He may have been putting too much pressure on himself trying to live up to that max contract scored over the summer. Big Roy’s effort and desire, however, have never been in question. The guy puts in the work, and now that’ it’s paying off, the smiles are back!

      BLUE COLLAR / GOLD SWAGGER

  12. Tyson Chandler’s fault. He got outplayed and out hustled. He just stood watching! Can’t believe this guy.
    http://www.morkandmindy.blogspot.com

  13. Russ A says:

    Hey its a good thing we got to meet the Pacers during the game so at least nba fans will know who he players are that are winning the series

  14. Chris says:

    Even if they win this series they better hope Chicago wears Miami out. Pacers are my favorite east coast team but in a game against Miami that offense needs to be better. Even if they manage to keep Miami well below their average Miami still plays strong enough D to make the pacers already meh offense crumble so even if Miami only scores 80-85pts Pacers still need to out score them

    • nbapacersfan says:

      @ Chris… Agreed. The Pacers offense has a tendency to stall out for extended periods of time. Against the stellar firepower of the Heat, that spells trouble.

  15. nbapacersfan says:

    Pacers in six.

    BLUE COLLAR / GOLD SWAGGER