After the Pacers' All-Star center went just 0-of-2 from the field and never managed to grab a single rebound during his team's Game 1 loss to the Washington Wizard's, Roy Hibbert told the Indy Star's Zac Keefer, "I've got to be a different Roy Hibbert than I've been." Unfortunately, as the Big Dawg continues to try to recapture the former version of himself that dominated the first half of the season and was a front-runner for DPOY, the Wizard's are in no way going to sit around and wait for him to solve his identity crisis, and the Pacers' options in the middle are dwindling.
According to Pacers.com, it was officially announced today that oft-injured center Andrew Bynum will miss the remainder of the playoffs and will not be with the team. With regard to the former All-Star's absence, Pacers' President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird released the following statement:
"We want to thank Andrew and our medical staff for trying to get the issues with his knee resolved. We wish him the best in the future."
Although Bynum only ever actually suited-up for the Blue and Gold twice (averaging 11.5 points and 9 rebounds) and was eventually ruled out for the entirety of the Pacers' first round match-up with the Atlanta Hawks, it still seemed that there was always a remote possibility that, if Roy continued to struggle to regain his mojo, Bynum would potentially be waiting in the wings to fill-in when necessary.
Now, after being signed to the Pacers' roster on February 1, having a back-up All-Star caliber center is no longer an option, which means that the team is going to need the All-Star center they already have in the starting line-up more than ever.
Frank Vogel hopes Roy Hibbert gives them something on the offensive end but says it’s not imperative; protecting the rim and rebounding is…— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) May 7, 2014
Hibbert and Mahinmi likely will never combine for 39 points in this series like the Wizards' frontcourt (Nene, Marcin Gortat, and Drew Gooden) did in Game 1, but they absolutely cannot afford to record zeroes in the rebounding column for a second time. During round one, the Wizards beat the Pacers at their own smashmouth brand of basketball, out scoring them in the paint, crashing the boards, and generating second chance points.
Andrew Bynum's knees are not going to help the Pacers reach the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond, but the old version of Roy Hibbert is still more than capable of doing so when he establishes low post position, demands the basketball, patrols the paint, expertly executes the law of verticality, silences outside noise, and, perhaps most importantly, has confidence in his own abilities.
Like Paul George told Zac Keefer, "We're at a point where we're really going to need Roy. And we really need him now."