The LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh Miami Heat have allowed only one player to average at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and shoot 45 percent in a playoff series.
Roy Hibbert is on the verge of becoming the second.
Hibbert – who’s crushing the threshold by averaging 22.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game and shooting 54.1 percent during the Eastern Conference Finals – is having his way with the undersized Heat in the paint.
If the Miami has an Achilles’ heal, it’s big and burly centers. But the 7-foot-2, 280-pound Hibbert is more like an Achilles’ hulk.
After becoming the first player to surpass those numbers against these Heat – averaging 12.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and shooting 47.5 percent in the second round of last year’s playoffs – Hibbert is having even more success this year.
Neither of the Heat’s primary centers, Chris Bosh (6-foot-11, 235 pounds) and Chris Andersen (6-foot-10, 228 pounds), have the size to keep Hibbert off the block. It doesn’t matter who guards him, Hibbert is tossing around his defender:
- With Bosh on the floor: 21-of-39 (53.8 percent) for 56 points in 111 minutes
- With Andersen on the floor: 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) for 37 points in 46 minutes
Udonis Haslem (6-foot-8, 235 pounds) and Shane Battier (6-foot-8, 225 pounds) have often switched onto Hibbert while playing power forward, and they’ve been even less of a match.
The Heat just don’t have a player on their roster who matches up well with Hibbert.
Joe Anthony (6-foot-9, 245 pounds) seems like Miami’s best chance, but he’s played just three minutes in this series with Hibbert on the court. Other than LeBron, Juwan Howard (6-foot-9, 250 pounds) has the Heat’s highest body mass index. They ought to at least consider activating him and giving him a few minutes per game on Hibbert.
But Miami has no easy answer here, and Hibbert seems in position to keep crushing the Heat’s interior defense.