Welcome back to the Post Up! We are well into the final stages of the first round of this years NBA Playoffs, and there have been some amazing performances all around. The Wizards stunned the Bulls yesterday by eliminating them in 5 games. The Heat reign supreme with a sweep of an Al Jefferson-less Bobcats. The West is showing why they are the best conference by having close match-ups in every single series. Then there are the Atlanta Hawks. They have been playing with a cause and have absolutely stunned the Pacers so far. While the Hawks deserve credit, the Pacers should also be to blame. But, who on the Pacers deserves that blame on their shoulders? Let’s find out.
Option One: Paul George
Paul George is the first name that everyone will turn to for the blame because of how he played in the first half of the season. By the All-Star break, George was averaging:
- 22.2 PPG, 6.4 REB, 3.4 AST, and 1.79 STL
Those are some pretty good numbers to say the least. Not to mention with those numbers, George was playing stellar defense and was in the talks for not only MVP, but DPOY. Now, while George may have not been scoring as much in the second half of the season, he was still putting up some great numbers, and similar numbers to that of the first half of the season:
- 20.8 PPG, 7.5 REB, 3.7 AST, and 2.07 STL
These numbers are very similar, and in all cases except scoring, they have improved. Where the real difference in George’s game came was in his efficiency. In the first half of the season George shot:
- 43.8% FG, 37.0% 3PT,and 86% FT
Compared to in the second half:
- 39.6% FG, 35.1% 3PT, and 88% FT
George was not shooting well in the second half of the season and he would either have a big game, or he would take more shots and shoot a much lower percentage. Now, while it is fair to criticize George for a worst performance in the second half of the season, his playoff game has gone to a new level. In the Atlanta Hawks series, he is averaging:
- 22.6 PPG, 11.2 REB, 5.2 AST, and 2.8 STL
- 46.8% FG, 51.5% 3PT, and 79% FT
Wow, George has found his form again and has been on a rampage. His numbers are going to always be overlooked however, because of how bad the Pacers are doing. But, one thing is for sure, no matter what happens in the playoff match-up between the Pacers and Hawks, Paul George is not to blame.
Option Two: Roy Hibbert
Now we come to the real issue in the Pacers woes, Roy Hibbert. This guy was supposed to be the next BIG big man. He was on an absolute tear at the beginning of the season. Before the All-Star break he was arguably having a better season than George, because George was expected to get to an MVP level, and not everyone was sold on Hibbert yet. Before the All-Star break, Hibbert was averaging:
- 11.8 PPG, 7.7 REB, and 2.48 BLK
- 46.4% FG, and 75% FT
While those numbers do not appear to be that eye-popping, believe me they were. Hibbert had struggled mightily in the first half of every NBA season he has played in. It is not until after the All-Star break that he would usually figure things out and put together a decent performance. For him to put up those kinds of numbers, and then to arguably be the DPOY at the break, he was finally reaching the potential everyone has been waiting for. Unfortunately for Hibbert and the Pacers, that fairy tale ended with the All-Star break. After the break he averaged:
- 8.9 PPG, 4.7 REB, and 1.83 BLk
- 39% FG, and 81% FT
Holy cow, what happened to Hibbert? To be honest I do not think even he knows, unless he has been playing with a torn ACL the entire second half of the season and has decided not to tell anyone. Hibbert has slumped big time in the second half of the season and the Pacers woes not only in the playoffs, but the second half of the season can be attributed to him. Hibbert was also playing bad defense in the second half. His credibility for defense was lost and that is why the Pacers started to lose and why he ultimately came in second for DPOY. Hibbert’s struggles did not stop with the regular season, however, in fact they carried over into the playoffs where he is averaging:
- 4.8 PPG, 3.4 REB, and .6 BLK
- 31.3% FG, and 67% FT
Hibbert was supposed to be the x-factor. Everyone was counting on him to find his game and play near the level he did at the beginning of the season, but instead he only continued to slump. ESPN put up a stat the other day showing that Hibbert had the lowest PER in NBA history for someone who made the All-Star team. His PER is at 0.8, which is light years away from the next closest person at 5.3.
Seeing Roy Hibbert struggle like this is sad. I personally enjoy his game and to see him continue to not figure it out is heartbreaking. Hibbert is 7’2″ and he is getting torched by a team whose tallest player is a 31-year-old rookie at 6’11” and Hibbert was supposed to be playing and shutting out 6’8″ Paul Millsap. Hibbert has struggled massively this playoffs which is why the fans and Pacers organization should look no further than Roy Hibbert as the source of their problems. Notice we did not include Frank Vogel in this conversation, because let’s be honest, Frank is a great coach and he cannot do anything more than he has with the situation he is in. Since, the struggles started in the regular season, Vogel has been looking to fix it, but if the players are not able to step up their game, he cannot go out their and play for them. Vogel should not be fired at the end of the season, and whatever changes the Pacers look to make this season should start and end with Roy Hibbert.
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All stats and information found on espn.com