Should the Pacers bench Hibbert?

Inefficiency on defense could make a case for Ian Mahinmi to get the start

Updated: April 22, 2014, 11:21 AM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

Roy HibbertAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesIndiana has had matchup problems, and Roy Hibbert might be at the core of the issue.

At 7-foot-2, Roy Hibbert has been a big presence in the Indiana Pacers' success over the last two seasons, figuratively and literally. But after losing Game 1 at home to the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, Pacers coach Frank Vogel has to consider equally big changes -- including whether to cut Hibbert's minutes or even bench him for the first time since taking over as head coach in January 2011.

The case for benching Hibbert

While Hibbert's offensive production and rebounding slumped late in the regular season, that isn't really the problem in this matchup. Instead, the issue is the unique way the Hawks' bigs are able to pull the runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year voting away from the basket with their perimeter shooting.

During two regular-season games against Indiana (both wins) Atlanta starting center Pero Antic scored 34 points and made six 3-pointers in 10 attempts. On Saturday, the Pacers did a better job of controlling Antic beyond the arc. He knocked down a pair of triples but scored just eight points on seven shot attempts. That came at a price. Hibbert staying close to his man opened up driving lanes for Antic's teammates, particularly point guard Jeff Teague. Witness this layup with Hibbert nowhere near the paint: