So, LeBron James is pretty damn good or something. The Miami Heat defeated Indiana 103-102 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, King James sinking the game’s final dagger into the Pacers with an incredible game-winning layup with 2.2 seconds left on the clock. James was his typical legendary self, finishing with a stat line of 30 points (12-24 shooting), 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Just another triple-double. Nothing to see here, people.
Since LeBron’s excellence needs little more trumpeting, let’s talk about the ineptitude of Indiana’s coaching staff. Paul George (27 points, five assists, four rebounds) was playing the game of his life, hitting a game-tying three to bring everything to overtime, then drawing a foul on a three at the overtime’s conclusion. He hit all three free throws to give Indiana a 102-101 lead.
With 2.2 seconds to go, one could reasonably assume that Pacers Coach Frank Vogel would put all of his teams’ best defenders on the court. That’d be the logical thing to do, right? Right?
We don’t really know why Vogel would opt to keep great defender Roy Hibbert on the bench. Maybe he was assuming that the Heat would panic and heave a desperation three. Maybe he doubted that LeBron would be able to drive to the basket in 2.2 seconds.
But whatever the case, King James ate Indiana’s perimeter defense for breakfast, driving to the lane for a virtually uncontested, game-winning layup. Would Hibbert have changed the game had he been on the floor? Hard to say, but Indiana would have fared a hell of a lot better with their best big than without.
Whatever logic Vogel seems to have been following, at least he acknowledges the error of his ways:
Pacers Coach Frank Vogel on Roy Hibbert at the end of the game: “I would say we’ll probably have him in next time.”
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 23, 2013
MY BAD, GUYS. YOU’RE RIGHT. SHOULD’VE KEPT ONE OF MY BEST DEFENDERS IN THERE. THAT’S ON ME.
Frank Vogel owes his players a dinner or something for that one. Hopefully he can stay out of his own way come Game 2.