Another lineup — not another level — might have done wonders for the Pacers at the end of Game 1.
Vogel’s decision to not have a 7-foot-2 shot-blocking machine like Hibbert in the game for the final play was still creating plenty of buzz on Thursday, though the second-guessing seemed to not be raining on Indiana’s collective mood.
With Miami down by one, James took an inbounds pass from Shane Battier with 2.2 seconds left, drove past an overcommitted George and easily dropped a left-handed layup home as time expired. If Hibbert was in the game, odds are he would have been able to at least contest James at the rim. Without Hibbert, no one so much as seemed to even jump toward the final shot.
“I may have been able to get a hand on it,” Hibbert said. “I may not have. He may have done something differently. Can’t really think about that. You just have to move on.”
When James scored, West turned and raised his arms a bit in clear disbelief. On Thursday, the Pacers’ leader spoke about it all with a calm tone.
“I mean, hindsight is always 20-20,” West said. “We know he wants to be out there on the floor. Looking back at it, probably should have been on the floor. Again, we still had the chance to make the play.”
What’s done is done, and Vogel said the second-guessing didn’t bother him whatsoever. He’s already moved on, and with good reason. The Pacers lost Game 1 of a second-round series in Miami last season, then took Game 2 and swiping home-court advantage away.
And he knows a Pacer win on Friday would change the complexion of this matchup as well.
“I don’t think you can say you’re the better team when that team has done what they’ve done,” Vogel said. “But I believe we can beat them.”