The Indiana Pacers were embarrassed in Game 1 of their second-round series with the Washington Wizards on their home floor, and once again their failure had a lot to do with Roy Hibbert’s poor play. To this point, his teammates have been very supportive of him, but that seems to be changing. There have been two reports since the end of Game 1 that his teammates have talked with him and made it clear that they need him to return to form.
“We’re at the point where we really need Roy and we need him now. (It) comes down to us having heart and rebounding the ball. We need our big fella to rebound the ball for us…but we’ve got faith. We’ve got faith that everything will be good on our end.” - Paul George
While those words may usually like like complete support, it is also showing that the Pacers know that they have no chance unless Hibbert gets his mind right. They have been struggling without Hibbert’s rebounding, scoring, and especially defensive ability over the last two months. If he isn’t able to get things going soon, the Pacers will be forced to sit him down on the bench.
Hibbert has only scored in double digits one time in the playoffs so far, and has only recorded more than five rebounds in two games. Those numbers simply aren’t going to get the job done, and it could end up being what sends the Pacers home early. If they truly want to have a chance at winning a championship this year, they will have to figure out a way to re-engage Hibbert or at least play him limited minutes off of the bench.
Overall, this is a very dangerous situation for the Pacers either way. If they do sit Hibbert down on the bench, they could very well shatter any little bit of confidence that he has left. On the other hand, if they don’t sit him down they may not get past the Wizards. There are some very tough decisions ahead of the Pacers over the next few days.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for Hoops-Nation.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.