Pacers' Hibbert works against Heat's Andersen during the fourth quarter in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series in Indianapolis

Roy Hibbert dominating Heat inside


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.

D’Antoni says Rockets’ Patrick Beverley to miss about 20 games

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 18:  Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets walks to the bench during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center on March 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Patrick Beverley is going to have a key role with the Rockets — he is their best defending guard. And it’s not close. He can help space the floor as a three-point shooter, he can work off the ball on offense and serve as a backup playmaker, but mostly what he brings is fearless, physical defense.

Except he’s not going to bring it for a while.

Following rumors he might knee surgery comes this from Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects guard Pat Beverley to miss at least 20 games with a left knee injury. His absence “complicates” some roster spots.

The Rockets are going to have one of the best offenses in the NBA but whether they finish fourth or seventh or out of the playoffs completely in the West will come down to a combination of health and how well they defend. This is a setback on both counts.

Expect to see more Eric Gordon, Tyler Ennis, and P.J. Hairston. Gordon has a real chance here. This is going to be an interesting year in Houston.

Jimmy Butler shrugs off idea he’s a “diva”

Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler goes up for a dunk past Charlotte Hornets' Marvin Williams during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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The Chicago Bulls traded Derrick Rose to New York, in hopes that the locker room, “whose team is this?” drama would head East with him. This is Jimmy Butler‘s team, with Dwyane Wade now assisting.

But the drama isn’t gone yet.

On their way out the door, the camps around Rose and Joakim Noah tried to paint Butler as a Diva who was the real problem. When Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Butler about it, he basically laughed off the idea.

“Am I a diva? I don’t call it that,’’ Butler said before Thursday’s 97-81 loss to Atlanta in their final preseason game. “My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that, but won’t apologize for it. Never will.

“As far as that talk goes, I don’t care. I’m going to keep working and if people don’t like it, people want to say what they want to say, that’s fine. I know, and I think these guys know, where my heart is and how I want to do right by everybody.’’

Rose and Noah thought Butler tried to jump the line to be the leader of the team, which they saw as still their right as the veterans. Butler didn’t care what they thought then, he certainly doesn’t now.

What matters more, Nicola Mirotic and Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis don’t care, and they are the guys still there.

Who will finish with the better record, Bulls or Knicks, is one of my favorite subplots of the NBA season.

Spurs Danny Green has strained quadricep, out three weeks

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 30: Fans celebrate a three with Danny Green #14 of the San Antonio Spurs against the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the Western Conference Semifinals for the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 30, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.

But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.

This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.

Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).

It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.

PBT Extra: Who wins MVP, other NBA end-of-season awards?

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The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.

Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.

In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.