NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Frank Vogel was Right
The head coach takes too much blame when things go wrong. Yesterday Frank Vogel decided to take Roy Hibbert out in the last seconds of the Pacers game 1 loss to Miami. Vogel is feeling the heat from the media today because Indiana failed to make a stop. He should not be scrutinized because Frank made the right call, and if Hibbert was in the game there would have been zero difference in the outcome of the play. Here’s the Breakdown:
Hibbert’s replacement is the shorter, quicker Tyler Hansbrough (red.) Hansbrough is in because he will be able to navigate through screens better and can guard a wider variety of players than Hibbert. He begins the play guarding Chris Bosh.
Before the inbound pass, Ray Allen screens Hansbrough. Sam Young (green) is responsible for Allen. In order to prevent a wide open jumper for Allen, Hansbrough has to switch assignments with Young.
LeBron James receives the pass and is guarded by Paul George at the top of the key (yellow.) Hansbrough is in the near corner covering Allen with little intention to help George because he needs to stay tight to one of the best shooters in NBA history. Young is anchored to Bosh because there is still over 2 seconds left which is more then enough time for Bosh to catch and shoot a wide open layup if Young leaves.
James blows by George and is only a step away from a layup. Hansbrough (who would be Hibbert) now has to bail off of Allen to prevent a layup but has nowhere near enough time to disrupt the shot. Young is now helping off of Bosh but did not get there in time to stop LeBron.
Even if Hibbert stays in the game he has no effect on the play. If the speedier Hansbrough had no time to get in the way of the game winner, Hibbert would not have either.
The real person at fault is George. With two seconds if he gives James more space, worst case scenario James hits a semi-contested long two. Instead George got caught trying stay tight with James.
It is easy to point the finger at the coach when things go wrong but Vogel made the right call. He knew Spolstra would try to free up Allen so he put in a faster defender. If Hibbert stays in Allen gets a wide open look, which is much less favorable for the Pacers than the awkward long two that LeBron would have been shooting if George plays the situation correctly.