The biggest aid to Roy Hibbert and the Pacers’ offense was simply getting the offense rolling early in the shot clock. Pushing the ball off of turnovers or missed shots coupled with Hibbert running the floor led to good looks for slump-busting big man.
"I tried to run the court and be aggressive whenever I could," Hibbert told Tracy Wolfson immediately after the game.
On the Pacers second possession, Hibbert got an easy layup because the Pacers went fast, and the Wizards helped off of Hibbert.
George Hill pushed the ball up and got it into David West quickly. As West got free from Nene, with the help of apush off, Marcin Gortat realizes he has to help on West or else give up a layup.
West dumps the ball to Hibbert, who finishes off the play, something missing from his play in the playoffs.
Hibbert gets the ball with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. The third Pacer, after a post up and a defensive rotation, touches the ball eight seconds into the shot clock. Way to many Pacer possessions only get the ball to the three-point line with 16 seconds left on the shot clock.
Then in the second quarter, Lance Stephenson made a tremendous pass after pushing the ball up the floor.
Lance Stephenson – Lance Lance Revolution or Dance Stephenson? – gets up the court quickly. West pulls out a brilliant move and screens Bradley Beal in transition. It was such a deft screen that Beal doesn’t see it coming, and Nene, who would be guarding West, has no idea he should be helping Beal out.
That screen gets Stephenson into the lane, where he draws Gortat and Nene. Stephenson makes the beautiful pass around Gortat, and Hibbert finishes, eventually.
In another example of a teammate finding Hibbert open near the basket, a West drive gets a bucket for Hibbert.
West is setting a ball screen for Stephenson. The pick and pop action has gotten West open jumpers all season, so Nene closes out aggressively. West gives a pump fake and drives by Nene. Gortat comes off Hibbert to cut off West.
Hibbert’s positioning is critical here. It is reminiscent of those Udonis Haslem jumpers against the Pacers in previous years. In the short corner, the Pacers are inviting Gortat to help. Hibbert has two advantages. First he is close enough to the rim that when he catches he can finish. Also, he is in a position that the passing angle is still open for West.
One other way Hibbert scored was from a Luis Scola entry pass.
The Pacers ran a familiar play – a pin down screen. This is for Scola to catch at the top of the key, but as Scola doesn’t have an open jumper, it turns into a high-low opportunity. Scola feeds Hibbert, who eventually scores.
On a side note, I really like the high-low action the Pacers occasionally get into. If Hibbert is still a threat to score, it can get him great position for a post up or a West/Scola jumper.
Aside from Hibbert’s ability to make shots despite looking terribly awkward while pivoting – or traveling – the Pacers offense as whole got the big man rolling. Pushing the ball helps the offense no matter what. It decreases late shot clock desperation, and it forces the defense to defend immediately. Also, Hibbert’s teammates drew a lot of help defense. This freed up Hibbert, as Washington freely helped off of him.
Hibbert doesn’t need to score 28 points or shoot 13 times for the Pacers offense to be successful. Indiana just needs to take advantage of missed shots and turnovers by finding the open man.
Now the focus shifts to if Hibbert can sustain this offense. If so, Washington may have to start sending second defenders at him. But the Wizards were playing good one-on-one defense with Hibbert. Sometimes he just made tough shots.