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Roy Hibbert Should've Been on the Floor to Stop LeBron James' Game-Winner

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 14:  Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates during the 93-82 win over the New York Knicks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 14, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 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 Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2013

Roy Hibbert knows where Frank Vogel went wrong against the Miami Heat, just like the rest of us.

The 7'2" shot-blocking connoisseur was sitting on the bench when LeBron James made an easy layup at the buzzer to give the Heat a 103-102 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals.

With 2.2 seconds remaining, Paul George overplayed LeBron's strong side on the inbounds, which allowed him to go left and navigate an alarmingly unimpeded path to the basket.

Where was Hibbert? On the bench. The same Hibbert who is averaging 2.5 blocks per game during the playoffs and already had two blocks on the night watched helplessly from the sidelines, as LeBron won the game with an uncontested flick of his wrist.

Vogel's decision to bench Hibbert—and on the previous possession when LeBron gave the Heat a 101-99 lead—has been questioned to no end. And rightfully so.

Miami's floor spacing offense complicates Indiana's defensive sets, but did he forget what Hibbert was able to do to Carmelo Anthony in Game 6 against the New York Knicks in the second round? If he did, his memory failed him twice. After LeBron's first layup, there never should have been a second.

Hibbert should have been on the floor during these final sequences, especially the last one—something he is fully aware of.

Following LeBron's heroics and Indiana's monumental letdown, Hibbert lamented Vogel's decision to take him out of the game, admitting he should have protested.

"I've grown as a player, this is my fifth year, and maybe I need to start talking up more," Hibbert told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. "They pay me [max-contract money] for a reason."

Indeed they do. They pay him to block shots and to protect the rim. From now on, he'll make sure they'll also pay him to speak up, as well.

"I didn't say anything, and I wish I did," he said. "From now on, I need to speak up."

It's just one loss, but in the playoffs, that's all it takes to shift the momentum of an entire series, especially against the Heat. Sometimes one shot is all you get. The Pacers have to hope they're the exception.

"I'm 100 percent sure [Hibbert] would've been there," George said of what would have been if Hibbert was in the game.

Next time (if there is a next time), he will be. Hibbert himself will make sure of it.

 

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