Every nation with children know of the game where you cover your eyes and sort of peek, the one where you count to ten while your friends hide. It’s a fun game for children to play. But it is a game you leave behind by the time you reach adolescence. Adults don’t play hide and seek; men don’t. And yet Roy Hibbert is. In fact hide and seek is the only thing he is good at these days. He hides and expects us to find him but we can’t. Perhaps Roy Hibbert is hiding on purpose. If it is intentional or just a byproduct of a psychological injury it does not matter. He has a vacant-I-want-to-be-somewhere-else stare. Sometimes watching him is like watching a wreck. Roy has digressed in a matter of weeks. He cannot be found, not on the court, not in the games that matter the most and are altering his reputation. As each game unfolds and as the playoffs move deeper and deeper into crowning a champion the evidence of Roy’s resistance to competition, to effort, to team chemistry and principles are on display. He plays as if he has a resistance to combat. There is no other plausible explanation for 6 points and 4 rebounds in game 2 vs. the Hawks other than retreat. And 4 points and 2 rebounds the next game. In a must win game in Atlanta he had 0 points and 0 rebounds. As he had Monday night in the opening round game against the Wizards. 0 points and 0 rebounds. There is nothing in science to explain how a seven foot tall man cannot get a rebound, not one. So if it is not science then it must be heart and desire and toughness. His teammate, David West, the soul of the Pacers said of Roy, “we need him in this fight.” So far Roy has been an unwilling participant. He has forgotten that basketball is dependent on running and hustle and desire and guts. Roy has no guts right now.
The Pacers need Roy Hibbert as much as they need Paul George to have a dominant offensive game and David West to offset the Wizards front court depth. The Wizards are a fast tempo team with a quick backcourt that plays a team game and is hardly flustered. They are great in transition and in John Wall paint penetration. The Pacers need everybody. This is the wrong time to hide.
Clippers vs. Thunder- In his playoff career Chris Paul has had 30+ points and 10+ assists five separate times. He did it twice against Dallas in 2008, He did it once against the Spurs in 2008. He did it once against Denver in 2009 and once against the Lakers in 2011. As incredible as those playoff performances were they did not translate into series victories. He won the Dallas series but lost the rest. So his 32 point, 10 assist game on Monday night does not necessarily mean that the Thunder are in trouble. What it means is that Scott Brooks must make adjustments. What it means is that when you try to take the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands he has too many weapons and the Thunder have too few defenders. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are dynamic talents but as DeAndre Jordan said after the last game in which the Clippers annihilated the Thunder: stop everyone else. By everyone else he means Steven Adams and Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefalosha and Kendrick Perkins. These role players have to show up if the Thunder are going to have a chance in this series. The Clippers are playing with house money because they are playing for a cause- the team hatred could not divide. If KD is truly the MVP, Wednesday night will belong to him. Exactly six years ago Kobe Bryant was awarded the MVP trophy. In his first playoff game as the MVP, against Utah, Kobe had 34 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. It’s a lesson for Durant- you have a job to do that is greater than the trophy you just received. Lose this game to the Clippers and you will be in trouble.