GIFs, NBA / Dec 11, 2013 / 1:30 pm

How A Stout Roy Hibbert Led The Pacers Over LeBron James’ Heat

Roy Hibbert

If you’re taking the short view — and in a 24-hour sports culture, we’re almost forced to — the Pacers’ 90-84 win over the Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday night could symbolize a “passing of the torch,” a “watershed moment,” a “statement game,” or [insert clichéd phrase here]. Roy Hibbert once again proved to be the antidote to LeBron James and Co. with an impressive win at home. In the long term, though, the win means nothing at all beyond the surface reactions.

With three more meetings in a season that’s barely gotten to the first quarter mark, Indiana’s second half surge for the win is a tiny blip on the radar screen of the 2-time defending champion Heat. But the win does reiterate what a lot of observers noted during last season’s tantalizing 7-game Eastern Conference Finals series. Namely: what the hell are the Heat going to do about Roy Hibbert?

The 7-2 center killed them in last season’s Conference Finals (averaging over 20 PPG for the series), and he did so again last night with 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting. Just look at how easily Hibbert scores in the post with three Heat players around him, and how simple his follow-up dunk becomes when Chris Andersen slides over to challenge a driving C.J. Watson layup:

The Heat simply don’t have anyone — until Greg Oden is ready to go — who can match up with Hibbert’s length and strength. While Roy’s offense blossoms against the small ball Heat and the Chris Bosh/Chris Andersen duo, it’s his defense that stymies this Heat team even more because it negates LeBron James’ greatest asset: finishing at the rim.

We’ve waxed poetic about Hibbert’s defensive acumen before, but last night was a study in how his presence can affect even a player of LeBron’s caliber.

James shot 6-of-16 from the floor, by far his worst shooting performance of this young season where he’s been connecting on 59 percent of his shots from the field. Wiry Paul George certainly helped to slow LeBron down, but it was Hibbert anchoring the back line that proved to be LeBron’s greatest impediment to the rim.

Keep reading to see three instances where Roy stopped a LeBron James bucket…

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  • SoulChorea

    Yeah those defensive stops will ALL be called as fouls in the playoffs, you can take that to the bank

  • 2cents

    Nicely said. This is just one REGULAR season match up, so lets not get too carried away.

  • spencer

    In the long term, though, the win means nothing at all beyond the surface reactions.

  • JAY

    He was doing the same vs the Heat in the East Final last year though. Jumping straight up. No foul.

  • SoulChorea

    Oh I agree they’re all clean plays; don’t get me wrong…I’m just saying that knowing how these refs act in the playoffs, you’re gonna see these getting called all the time. They weren’t prepared for the Pacers to be as tough as they were last year, but rest assured they will have them whistles ready to go this time around lol

  • JAY

    Man, I really hope you’re wrong. Reputations play a huge part with ref calls. Hibbert has built himself a pretty good reputation protecting the rim. But you’re right, with the NBA refs you really never know.