GIFs, Smack / May 23, 2013 / 12:30 am

LeBron James’ Buzzer-Beater Overtime Layup to Win Game 1; Nobody Understands What Frank Vogel Was Thinking

lebron james game-winner

Oh man … if the Indiana Pacers go on to lose this series against the Miami Heat, Pacers coach Frank Vogel is A) Going to be raked over the coals in the media for sitting Roy Hibbert on two crucial plays in overtime and B) Will forever be haunted by what could have been.

The criticism is fair. With his team up one with 2.2 seconds left in overtime, Vogel sat Hibbert – his best shot blocker and a presence that kept the Heat out of the lane for the majority of the game – in favor of a Tyler Hansbrough/Sam Young combo. His team paid dearly.

LeBron James caught the ball at the top of the key, blew right past an overplaying Paul George (who had his own incredible night) and streaked right to the rim for the win. He didn’t have to think twice because he knew there was no presence in the middle. And the aforementioned Sam Young? Well, he didn’t slide over to help and he didn’t try to foul LeBron to make him earn the win at the foul line. Just a disaster all the way around.

We could maybe understand Vogel’s strategy if just a play or two earlier – with Hibbert on the bench – LeBron hadn’t turned George Hill into a light snack and went straight to the tin as soon as he touched the ball. We’re assuming Vogel opted for the smaller, more mobile lineup to be able to get out on shooters after a kick out, but damn, we’d rather let Chris Bosh try to beat us with a long jumper than just giving the best player in in the universe a free pass to the rim. It seems like Frank was overthinking things down the stretch.

The final bucket was the finishing touch on an incredible performance by James as notched his ninth playoff triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Here’s the final play:

Is it a wrap for the Pacers after blowing a chance to steal Game 1?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.angela.94 Nick Angela

    Vogel played it smart. How could he have known that his vaunted Pacers defense would fall apart and leave James wide open inside the foul line, which left George in a no-win situation? IF the Pacers had played typical Pacers defense on that inbound pass, then Hibbert would’ve had no reason to be on the floor. James’ catch of the inbound pass would’ve been contested, which means that either (1) James would’ve been forced to catch and shoot, or (2) Bosh (likely) would’ve been forced to do the same.

  • JAY

    “How could he have known that his vaunted Pacers defense would fall apart and leave James wide open inside the foul line”
    – Because he took his only shotblocker out of the game!! The Pacers defense is THAT good because of Hibbert.

    Bottomline, you keep your best defenders out on the floor. Sam Young on Bosh?? Really?!? Lebron’s eyes widened when he saw no Hibbert inside. Vogel played it smart?? Lol. That’s a joke. That was one of the biggest coaching mistakes I’ve seen in years. How could he have known?? He made the same mistake twice. And the Heat scored very easily the first time. THAT’s how he should have known.

  • Big Island

    Paul George got caught out of position. If HIbbert was in the game, whoever he was guarding would set a pick for Lebron, they would have to switch, and then Hibbert is on Lebron. With 2 seconds, they are catching and shooting, so having more flexible defenders makes sense. Paul George just overran the play. Nothing more.

    *edit – Sam Young should have sold out for a block or foul.

  • DimeMag

    Agreed. If he hadn’t just seen LeBron do the same exact thing when Hibbert was out just seconds before, we could see the thinking.

    We’re still scratching our heads over Sam Young though. Completely overwhelmed by the moment. Slow to help and then didn’t take the foul to make LBJ earn it at the line.

  • JAY

    Best defenders should be out on the court in late game defensive situations, IMO. Hibbert is a world class defender.. Young is mediocre, definitely not the presence Hibbert is. Hibbert takes away the middle. Without him, the whole court is in play.

    Let’s not talk about the ifs, ands or buts. Lets talk about what happened…. the play just before, with the exact same lineups… what happened?? An easy Lebron layup within seconds of inbounding. Probably Lebron easiest look of the whole night, until the final play. Then with 2 secs left, Vogel puts the same 5 guys that just gave up a layup? Was Vogel just hoping Spoelstra would draw up a play for a jump shot the second time around??

  • Kwaku Danso

    I almost spit up my lunch when I read “Vogel played it smart”….