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Roy Hibbert Says LeBron James Told Him Miami Heat's Final Play in Game 5

USA Today
Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 16, 2016

In Roy Hibbert's world, the only dumb questions are the ones left unasked.

With his Indiana Pacers clinging to a two-point lead with less than 14 seconds remaining Wednesday night, the towering big man threw something at the wall—and surprisingly it stuck.

He asked LeBron James what the Miami Heat had coming out of the timeout, and the four-time MVP told Hibbert exactly what was coming, via Scott Agness of Pacers.com:

I asked him straight up right before the play. I was like, "You gonna pass to Bosh?" And he said if I’m in the paint he will. We were just joking around. I thought he was going to the basket and I tried to help my teammate out and those guys covered for me.

Now, it's not as if this was exactly confidential information here. The way Miami's final possession played out should have surprised no one.

The Heat have the best player on the planet, so obviously they put the ball in his hands. James, as expected, motored toward the basket—his 81.1 percent shooting inside the restricted area ranks second in the postseason (minimum 25 attempts), via NBA.com—drew a second defender and made the right basketball play.

James found an open Chris Bosh in the right corner, an area where the big man has hit seven of his 14 attempts in the playoffs. From the drive to the dish to the launch, all of these were high-percentage plays. All of them were predictable long before James reportedly opened his mouth.

"Still, it’s fun to know that LeBron is so supremely confident in his ability that he feels comfortable telling his opponents where he’s planning to go," USA Today's Mike Foss noted.

If the Pacers knew what was coming—whether from James' words or coach Frank Vogel's huddle—they didn't stop the Heat from getting a potential series-closing shot they could live with. Bosh simply couldn't convert the look.

While some of James' critics, like always, wondered aloud, as per CBS Sports, why he didn't pull the trigger himself, he told reporters he was fine with his decision:

It's like playing cards, that's why they got backs on them. You don't know what's going to happen. For me, my teammates trust that I'm going to make the right play to help us win. And, win, lose or draw, you live with that. We got a great look. C.B. makes that shot, then we go, we get a stop, and we're heading to the Finals.

Not only that, but James is also being lauded for taking what the defense gave him and making the right call as opposed to being criticized for not imposing his will:

None of that matters now for James, Hibbert or their respective clubs. With Indiana squeaking out a 93-90 Game 5 win, all of the focus now shifts over to Friday night's Game 6 clash (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

It's once again win-or-go-fishing time for the Pacers. Expect them to play every card in their hand—and apparently ask the Heat for a peek at theirs, too.


Statistics used courtesy of NBA.com.

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