Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert played almost 18 minutes in a game one loss to the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Hibbert's biggest contribution on the box score was five fouls.
“We just have to get him more touches,” said Pacers guard Lance Stephenson. “We only gave him two touches. We can't say it's his fault. I think it was our fault that we didn't give him more touches."
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel says he has to call more plays for Hibbert and his teammates have to get the big man the ball in scoring position.
"He wasn't 0-for-11 last night,” said Vogel. “He was 0-for-2. He's the fifth option in our starting five offense. He needs to get a little more active on the offensive glass."
Hibbert did not score or have rebound, while his Wizards counterpart at center, Marcin Gortat, delivered a double-double (12 points, 15 rebounds). Hibbert’s decreased production began late in the season and was magnified in the first round of the playoffs. His minutes were limited and his statistics often negligible against the Hawks. Hibbert is the first starting center to record zero points and zero rebounds in two NBA playoff games. But his coach and teammates refuse to give up on him. In fact, they say they have to have more from Hibbert to move on in the playoffs.
"We tell Roy all the time how much we're going to need him in this series and in this playoff run in general,” said Pacers forward Paul George. “Now it's just up to Roy to come through and deliver for us."
Hibbert admits this is the toughest slump of his career. He is often harder on himself than the media is. But he insists he’s not made at himself right now.
“More just trying to figure things out, not really mad,” said Hibbert. “I do need to play mad, so I'm going to change it up. All I have to do is make sure I defend and rebound at a high level. Offense is something that’s not a big thing for me as of right now.
Hibbert is 7'2", the Pacers center of media unkind attention, because he's playing so small in these playoffs. But the Wizards outplayed the Pacers at every position in game one. The inconsistent performance that plagued the Pacers in the last two months of the regular season is still a big problem in the postseason. The Pacers fell behind quickly and the Wizards controlled game one on their way to a 102-96 victory. Game two in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 7:00 p.m. (TNT)