He is that important to their success this season, and especially in this round.
Against the Magic in the regular season, Hibbert posted mediocre numbers that fall far below his season averages: Three times he has posted six or fewer rebounds, and three times he has scored 10 or fewer points. The Pacers have a 1-3 record versus the Magic on the season.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard has been the difference for Orlando, averaging a plus-minus of plus-11 in their three wins. But the Magic are without Howard for the remainder of the season, and in 11 games without him, they are 4-7.
Clearly, this is not the same Magic team that formerly held the No. 3 seed that Indiana now owns. And with only Glen "Big Baby" Davis and rookie Daniel Orton to oppose him, Hibbert must dominate the paint and bully his way past the Orlando big men en route to the first Pacers playoff series win since the 2004-05 season.
Davis is a capable backup, but Hibbert will exploit his five-inch height advantage over him. Hibbert should look to establish position underneath and force Davis to foul early and often.
What will be the outcome of this series?
Davis' primary backup will be the very green rookie, Daniel Orton. Orton has totaled 187 minutes in his NBA career and will now endure a trial by fire in the playoffs. In increased minutes in April, he has shown a propensity to foul often.
If Hibbert can use his size and skill advantages to put both Davis and Orton into foul trouble, the Magic will have very little left behind them to defend the paint.
Hibbert should be the key to victory for the Pacers: Look for him to raise his scoring to 18 points a game, and his rebounding to 10 a game.
A dominant Hibbert should limit this series to no more than five games.
He has the talent to average that type of double-double for the season; if he realizes that potential, fans might look to this series as the time when Hibbert finally emerged.