Pacers must defend Roy Hibbert's ability to defend the rim

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto coach Dwane Casey is the latest coach to try to solve the Pacers defense by lobbying officials off the court.

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Week and his efforts against the Pacers alone left him deserving. Not only did Casey get his team to fully buy into the importance of their measuring-stick game against the Pacers, but he also did some work prior to the game to help his team out against the Pacers defense.

According to both reports by Candace Buckner and Zach Lowe from Toronto, Casey not so subtly sent a message, one he surely shared with officials, that he thinks Roy Hibbert gets away with fouling due to his reputation for defending the rim by taking advantage of the league's allowance for players to jump straight up and take a hit for an offensive foul or block.

The now-familiar and overt attempts, usually after every play at the rim during a game, by Pacers' opponents to take issue with the rule, or in Casey's case, the ruling forces the Pacers to continue pointing to the rule book and make sure they get a fair look. It may seem monotonous for Frank Vogel to repeat the details of the NBA's rule regarding verticality around the rim but as opponents try to plead their case to officials, Vogel has to continually stand up for his big man, as he does here in Buckner's piece.

What it comes down to, what the officials are trying to say is, every defender's entitled to vertical space no matter where you are on the floor - the restricted arc means nothing to our system because we don't take charges at the rim typically. So you try to get yourself in front of the ball and take advantage of the legality of vertical space.

There's no doubt that Hibbert gets away with what might be a foul, often due to trying to block a shot after absorbing contact and slamming his arms down. The timing of those plays make them extremely hard to call and in some ways subjective from night-to-night depending on the ref.

Once the game started in Toronto, Hibbert fouled out, although none of the fouls were tied to a play requiring a subjective interpretation of the verticality rule. Still, the Raptors took their shot at attacking the paint and while some teams have shied away from challenging Hibbert, quality teams in the playoffs will likely force the issue and put the onus on the officials to determine Hibbert's fate.

This is another prime reason for the Pacers to work for home court advantage since the paint around the rim at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is always more forgiving for Big Roy than on the road.

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