NBA Playoffs 2012: Roy Hibbert Key to Indiana Pacers Reaching Game 7

Jeff ChaseSenior Analyst IIMay 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 17: Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers moves against Ronny Turiaf #21 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 17, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers defeated the Heat 94-75. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers are on the brink of elimination from the NBA playoffs at the hands of the Miami Heat, but one man can save and them and keep their dreams alive.

That man is center Roy Hibbert, who will be the most important player heading into Game 6.

The Heat absolutely trounced the Pacers in Game 5, defeating the Pacers 115-83 in Miami behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's 58 points.

The big two are making some serious noise, but with the actual biggest member of their crew Chris Bosh out, the Pacers must see a huge performance from Hibbert.

No excuse for him not to.

Hibbert was solid on the boards in the last game grabbing 12 rebounds, but he was nowhere to be found on offense, scoring just eight points on 3-of-10 shots.

This postseason he is averaging 11.7 points per game, but the team will need more than that from him.

In two of the team's biggest margins of victory this season, Hibbert scored 19 and 18 points against the Heat and Orlando Magic, respectively.

The team obviously can't hop on Hibbert's back and expect him to carry the team, but they do need him to convert many of their offensive possessions using his 7'2", 260-pound frame to their advantage.

Perhaps that is exactly what Larry Bird was talking about when he complained following their loss Tuesday. 


"I can't believe my team went soft," Bird said on the phone. "S-O-F-T. I'm disappointed. I never thought it would happen."

Defense is key to this situation, especially in terms of closing the lane up on defense.

It won't be easy to stop James and Wade, especially with a Eastern Conference Finals berth on the cusp. The Pacers could at least be in good position to spoil the potential party and extend this series if they can get a solid contribution from their big man.

The Pacers have one advantage in this battle, so they must use it to make sure they can stay alive.