When you think of buzzer beaters, you usually see someone hitting a three pointer or someone hitting a jump shot with a hand in their face. Well, how does making an uncontested shot in a layup line sound to you to win a playoff game? Yeah, that sounds ideal to me too. Well, for those of you who couldn’t stay awake to watch the closing minutes of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals last night, that’s what happened. Lebron James drove down the lane for an uncontested layup to beat the Indiana Pacers 103-102. Now, the majority of the blame is being placed on Pacers head coach Frank Vogel for not having 7 foot 2 inch Roy Hibbert on floor for the final possession of the game. Yes, some of the blame rests on Vogel, (and I’ll get into why in a minute) but the majority of the blame should land on Paul George and his “defense” on the final play.
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, click below to watch Lebron’s game winner:
There are 2.2 seconds left on the clock and everyone and their mother knows who’s getting the ball. The problem you normally have in attempting to guard Lebron James is that you never know if he’s going to shoot, drive, or pass the ball. However, with 2.2 seconds left, whoever gets the inbounds pass is going to either shoot it right away, take one dribble into a jump shot, or if he magically gets an opening he’ll take it to the hoop. So the excuse that Paul George hesitated to get out to Lebron James because Ray Allen happened to run through the lane is ludicrous. George needs to chase the best player in the world around and let Allen’s defender worry about Allen. The biggest problem with George’s defense though is that he overplays James, so when he gets the ball he already has a step on George. This horrid defense allows an unprecedented wide open layup for the game winner. Now the other hot topic is why in the world Roy Hibbert was not on the floor for the final possession?!?! To that question I have no rational response. Coach Vogel had a response, but his didn’t make much sense either. He said he left Hibbert on the bench because Chris Bosh was in at center for the Heat. Since bosh can shoot from the outside he stretches the floor and in turn pulls Hibbert outside (where he is mostly useless). This is why Roy Hibbert, the Pacers best interior defender was watching Lebron drive down the lane from the bench. Yeah, good idea Frank. His explanation is all well and good during the 1st quarter, but with 2.2 seconds on the clock it’s almost physically impossible for Lebron to get the inbound pass, drive the lane, draw a double team from Hibbert, and then hit Bosh for a wide open 12-footer. No one thought Lebron could get to the basket that fast by himself let alone pass off to someone else. Now, if Bosh somehow got the inbound pass and was to take the game winning shot, I think Vogel would have lived with a somewhat contested shot from 15-18 feet. Hibbert might by 7’2″ and not very mobile, but I’m sure he could have gotten a hand in Bosh’s face if that was the case. But that was not the case. James scored, the Heat won, and it’s only a matter of time to see how the Pacers respond.
Will they be demoralized after losing a heartbreaker on Miami’s home court? Will they bounce back and play Miami to another close game? I always thought this series was going to go 6 hard fought games, so I don’t believe this loss is the beginning of the end for the Pacers. Look for Hibbert to stay out of foul trouble early in game 2 and play the Heat tougher down low. He’ll need to play well for the Pacers to have a chance, but more importantly the Pacers, (a solid defensive team) need to play tighter defense, especially down the stretch of games in order to win. You can catch Game 2 on TNT, Friday night @ 8:30 p.m. Enjoy!
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