Struggling Roy Hibbert Could Be Benched in Game 4

by April 25, 2014

Late in the regular season, in a demoralizing loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel glued Roy Hibbert to the bench. Now staring into a 2-1 series hole to these same Hawks, Vogel might be forced to once again bench Indiana’s center, as Hibbert has failed miserably to produce. Per an angry screed in the Indy Star:

It’s really very simple and kind of sad given the deep reservoir of goodwill the big man has built up in Indianapolis: Hibbert is killing the Pacers right now. He can’t catch a pass. He can’t get a rebound. He can’t make a shot, either from mid-range or from right in front of the rim. And if coach Frank Vogel stays with him, if Vogel continues to start him or play him a significant number of minutes, he deserves to go down with the sinking ship.

The bottom line is, the Pacers are better right now with a front line that features David West and Luis Scola, a fact that was hammered home when the Pacers used the small lineup to make a middling fourth-quarter run at the Hawks.

After the game, Vogel was asked several times, in several different ways, if Hibbert would be in the starting lineup Saturday afternoon for Game 4.

“We’ll see,” he said. He paused. “Probably.”

Feel free to read a lot into that response. Because he is, in fact, thinking about putting Hibbert on the bench. In the past, Vogel would never remotely entertain the notion of doing anything other than starting and playing Hibbert, but twice he was asked if Hibbert would start, and twice he said, “We’ll see.”

“We’ll look at everything,” Vogel continued. “I can’t say (he’s starting in Game 4) for right now. But I do have confidence in Roy Hibbert. I do have that. He hasn’t played well in this series to this point, but I do have great confidence in him.

“We’re not going to quit on him. We’re going to keep trying to figure it out.”

“I’ve just got to figure it out and be ready,” Hibbert said softly in the Pacers’ postgame locker room. “It’s my fault.”