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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