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With two seconds left in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat and his Indiana Pacers clinging to a one point lead, head coach Frank Vogel made a curious move. He removed Roy Hibbert, his 7-foot-2 center and rim protector extraordinaire, from the game. Hibbert watched begrudgingly from the bench as LeBron James took the inbound pass near the 3-point line, blew past an overly agressive Paul George and stormed his way to the hoop for an uncontested layup that splashed through the net as time expired. Game over. Heat win.
Vogel later explained that he feared Hibbert would be pulled into the paint by the prospect of a James drive, leaving Chris Bosh wide open on the wing for a jump shot, so he employed a lineup that could switch quickly in case that happened. Fine. Except that everyone in American Airlines Arena knew LeBron was taking the ball to the hole, and executing a successful drive and kick within two seconds is a tall task. Removing Hibbert from the game made even less sense when you consider that Hibbert was third in the league in blocks this season and he helped Indiana limit opponents to 49 percent shooting within eight feet of the rim, well under the league average of 56 percent.
After the game, Vogel admitted he may have outsmarted himself, remarking that "we'll probably have [Hibbert] in next time."
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