COMMENTARY | LeBron James and the Miami Heat bested Paul George and the Indiana Pacers last night in Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. But a lingering question wafts the air after Miami's 102-101 win in overtime: did Frank Vogel choke this time around?
Indian Pacers coach faces "Heat," chokes
Vogel, already in the spotlight for remarks he made to reporters last week, is under fire for last night's muckup in Game 1 against the Heat after LeBron James' game-winning bucket.
"They're the next team that's in our way and that's how we're approaching it," Vogel said to the media after Indiana sent the New York Knicks packing in Game 6 Saturday.
I'm a keeper-of-the gate like any other Miami Heat fan. However, I'm not quite convinced Vogel was dismissing the NBA defending champions as just another team, as some suggest.
That aside, he is not quite off the hook for sitting his big man last night when the Pacers needed the plodding 7-2 center to protect the paint.
The Pacers appeared to be poised to upset the Heat in South Beach last night with some heroic play in the fourth quarter. A win on the road would have definitely been a series-changer.
Despite Paul George's 27 points, four rebounds and five assists, Indiana just couldn't close the deal, thanks to a move out of left field by the captain of the ship.
James finished the night with 30 points, 10 boards and 10 assists. So what was Vogel thinking when he took Roy Hibbert out of the game at a critical moment?
Did he think the Heat would take a high-percentage shot or midrange jumper? One didn't have to be an NBA coach to realize that the play would likely be designed in the paint with a quick inbound feed to LeBron. And that's exactly what happened. The rest is history and a tough lesson learned.
Sure, Paul George overplayed LeBron on the inbound pass instead of giving him distance and then reacting. But that's why a case can be made for Hibbert to stay and play.
To Hibbert or not to Hibbert? That is the question
Not once, but twice did Vogel bench Roy in the final 24 seconds of the game. If you're thinking along the lines of coaching strategy and trying to think what a Hall of Fame coach would have done, I'll give you that.
After all, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was likely going small to manage the cadre of Miami cutters, all of whom are decent from midrange.
But if you're a coach who thinks Carmelo Anthony's embarrassing blocked dunk, compliments of Hibbert, was a fluke last week, your misread is a choke and nothing else. There, I said it.
ESPN's Michael Wilbon said it best after Miami beat the Indian Pacers last night:
"The Pacers are such suckers...to give up that play...they can't finish anything...about the dumbest coaching move in playoffs I've seen," he said on Twitter on May 22.
I would agree.
Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals is Friday, May 24. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter, and avid fan of the NBA, Motorsports, NFL, PGA and all things tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat developments.
- Sports & Recreation
- Miami Heat
- LeBron James
- Indiana Pacers
- Frank Vogel
- Paul George