Roy Hibbert, a former Georgetown Hoya, saw his 2013-14 season come to an end in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat last night. The Heat, who are on their way to the NBA Finals to face either the San Antonio Spurs or the Okaloma City Thunder, are the same team that the Indiana Pacers fell to two years in a row and now they have several questions to answer. But the main problem this postseason has been the play of their rim protector.
Hibbert has been inconsistent throughout the NBA Playoffs. He was mired for his play against the Atlanta Hawks, the Washington Wizards, and then of course the Miami Heat. With that said it was not all on him. The Pacers as a whole were not playing well and he faced matchup problems against each team.
Against the Hawks, Hibbert was going against a shooting big men name Pero Antic. Antic, 31, did not put up amazing numbers, but him making shots really had Hibbert in a state of confusion because big men are not used to coming out of the paint and guarding players that can shoot the ball effectively from everywhere on the floor.
When he plays against these types of players, and is having an off night, he tends to put his head down and it seems like he loses confidence in himself. This showed once again against the Wizards as he faced similar problems because he was going up against NeNe and Marcin Gortat. Both of them can shoot well in and out of the paint, which put Hibbert in a tizzy defensively. Even though the Pacers were the favorites to win in both series, which they did, it was a really tough tandem of series for Hibbert. Hibbert's playoff averages from the 2013 postseason season were good, but in 2014 it just dropped because of what opponents can do to stop him from scoring.
Throughout the playoffs, Hibbert had a couple games where people thought of the old Hibbert from the 2012-13 season, but as it turned out that was nothing more than a flash in the pan.
The main thing for Hibbert is that he needs to improve his confidence. It's what he is lacking at times and what he needs to work on most. In addition, Hibbert has a lack of athleticism and his footwork could be retooled. It's become apparent that he needs to turn into a more athletic big man and stop being a player that can only stay in the paint and protect the rim. Those are some of the things that are preventing him from being consistent. Paul George contributed to some of Hibbert's inconsistencies too because he had games during the playoffs where he looked like he was not even on the court. This led to the pressure falling squarely on the former Georgetown big man, whose confidence was already shot.
Both Hibbert and George needs to become consistent in order for them to reach the NBA Finals. As for now, Hibbert has a lot of work to do in order for people to be high on him again, because the 2013-14 Playoffs left a black eye on his perception for both the media and fans.