Pacers Coach Blew Last Night's Game By Taking Roy Hibbert Out

Frank Vogel Dumb Sub NBA Pacers Heat

Twitter was ablaze last night after Indianapolis Pacers head coach Frank Vogel’s decision to bench centre Roy Hibbert at the end of last night’s game.

With the 7-foot 2-inch Hibbert sitting, LeBron James made a game-winning, buzzer-beating layup. Twitter second-guessing is normal, but the crowd was more than couch coaches. ESPN commentator and former Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon went on a rant:

Grantland founder Bill Simmons ranted as well:

Rick Reilly got in on the action, too:

Vogel’s decision to bench Hibbert, not once but twice, in key moments in the game undoubtedly led his players to question his thought process. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said Pacers players were discussing Hibbert’s epic block on Carmelo Anthony in the Eastern Conference Semifinals after the game.

Vogel first benched Hibbert with 24 seconds left in overtime. With five fouls on his big man, the logic went that Vogel wanted to protect Hibbert for a final offensive possession. Following the substitution James scored on a layup to give the Heat a 101-99 lead. Hibbert returned to the game for offence with 10 seconds left. But what Vogel likely thought would be the final posession was not when Paul George was fouled on a three point attempt with two seconds left. George made all three free throws. With two seconds left, Vogel again subbed out Hibbert. In a moment of uncertainty Vogel made a serious coaching blunder. Why keep your best rim protector on the bench with two seconds left in a one point game? Against the best player/attacker/dunker in the world?

Vogel said he was concerned with a Chris Bosh jump shot. But after the game and James’s game-winning drive, he reconsidered.

“I would say we’ll probably have him (Hibbert) in next time,” Vogel said.

Hibbert himself said he should have challenged Vogel’s decision.

“I think as I get older, I may have to [ask to stay in],” Hibbert said. “I didn’t, and in hindsight I wish I did because LeBron’s layup was one I think I could’ve [blocked], because he served it up.”

The Pacers can take solace knowing they shoulda, coulda won Game 1. The statistics of the game closely followed our blueprint for an upset. However, the Heat’s win does fall in line with our series prediction.

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