Right after the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers on a LeBron James layup, which I’ve broken down frame-by-frame (I strongly urge you to read that article), everybody was trashing Frank Vogel for not having Roy Hibbert in the game.
And my favorite tweet:
Here’s Frank Vogel’s explanation:
Basically, Vogel was afraid of getting burned on a Bosh midrange jumper via a pick-and-pop, or a Bosh catch-and-shoot at the elbow (one of Bosh’s favorite places to shoot). Roy Hibbert, while an excellent rim protector, is not the most mobile guy — and Vogel was (rightly) afraid of Chris Bosh’s ability to shoot the mid-range jumper, so Vogel put Tyler Hansbrough on Bosh.
Let’s not forget that Bosh is a bona fide All-Star caliber player in his own right, and that he can hit clutch shots as well (remember the game-winning three from the San Antonio Spurs game this year?). You have to respect talent, and Bosh is very talented; Vogel respected that talent by putting a more mobile big man (Hansbrough) on Bosh.
On Miami’s final play, Hansbrough actually ended up switched from defending Bosh to defending Ray Allen due to Sam Young’s lack of defense and Ray Allen’s excellent movement. So even if Hibbert was in the game, and was initially guarding Chris Bosh, he probably would have ended up guarding Ray Allen in the corner (like Hansbrough) and away from the play instead of protecting the rim.
Which brings me to my next point: Miami went really really small on their last play. They had Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh out on the floor. Obviously, Spoelstra’s plan was probably to screen for a shooter and get an open look in the last 2.2 seconds. And essentially, this was true — Ray Allen and Norris Cole both came off LeBron James and Chris Bosh screens, respectively. However, the Pacers guarded the shooters very well, partly because Hansbrough was able to switch with Sam Young and defend Ray Allen. Hibbert would probably not have been able to make the switch, and even if he had, Ray Allen vs. Hibbert is a greater mismatch than Ray Allen vs. Tyler Hansbrough.
So the real culprit here is not Frank Vogel, but rather Paul George. See Paul George did the one thing that he should not have done — he played LeBron too closely. During the timeout Frank Vogel is probably telling Paul George something to the extent of
Look, let LeBron take a jumper; if he makes it, fine, if he doesn’t make it, that’s great. But whatever you do, don’t let LeBron go by you because the Heat have (basically) a five good perimeter jump shooters spreading the floor, and there is going to be nobody behind you to help.
But Paul George overextends himself, and because of the great set that Miami ran, there was no help defense, and the rest is history. It’s easy to Monday Morning quarterback — to point out what when something goes wrong — but if Paul George had actually played some solid defense and LeBron had missed a jumper (or even if LeBron had made a jumper) nobody would be talking about how Frank Vogel is an idiot for not having Roy Hibbert in the game, they would probably be making bad “fourth quarter” jokes about LeBron.