After Roy Hibbert laid yet another egg in the Indiana Pacers' 102-96 Game 1 loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday, David West and Rasual Butler among others held a private discussion with the embattled big man, according to Scott Agness of Pacers.com.
None of the players involved divulged what was said in the meeting, but West was reportedly "fuming" and "as heated as he's ever been." The veteran forward implored Hibbert to become more involved in the game, per Bob Kravitz of The Indy Star:
"He's got to be part of the fight," West said. "He's got to be part of this thing for us to go anywhere."
Hibbert, who has been struggling for months, appeared to have a bit of a breakthrough in Indiana's Game 7 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The big man posted 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the win, which marked his best performance of the postseason by far.
However, Hibbert was a complete disaster in Game 1 against Washington. The 27-year-old didn't record a single point or rebound while committing five fouls in 18 minutes. It's the second time this postseason Hibbert hasn't notched a point or rebound, and the third time since the beginning of April.
Hibbert has never been much of a scorer, but he only has 37 points in eight playoff games. This comes after he averaged 5.3 points on 23.5 percent shooting over the span of six regular-season games in April. The Pacers have scored just 91.5 points per 100 possessions with Hibbert on the court in the postseason, according to NBA.com's stats page.
Perhaps more galling is his lack of rebounding. Hibbert averaged 4.6 rebounds in March, 3.2 rebounds in April and is averaging only 3.3 rebounds in the postseason. The Pacers have generally been able to survive on the boards despite Hibbert's poor rebounding, but that wasn't the case in Game 1. The Wizards won the rebounding battle 53-36 and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, leading to 19 second chance points.
"We're at the point where we really need Roy and we need him now," George said following Monday's loss.
"[It] comes down to us having heart and rebounding the ball," George said. "We need our big fella to rebound the ball for us."
Hibbert also hasn't had that much of an impact on Indiana's defense in the postseason, and if he's not going to be a consistent force on that end, then he's basically a detriment to have on the court because of his other struggles.
But as bad as Hibbert has been, the Pacers don't have great backup options. Ian Mahinmi has offered just as little if not less than Hibbert, while Luis Scola has been inconsistent all year and was even briefly taken out of the rotation against Atlanta. Then there's Andrew Bynum, who remains sidelined with a knee injury. Bynum has played in just two games since signing with the Pacers in early February.
Going small with Chris Copeland is a popular solution that did have some success in the opening round, albeit in very limited minutes. If Hibbert continues to flounder, perhaps Pacers coach Frank Vogel goes to Copeland earlier to provide more offense.
But if the Pacers want to win anything, Hibbert needs to contribute like he did in Game 7 against Atlanta, and he claims things will be different going forward:
"I'm going to change some things up for the second game," said Hibbert, who went 0-for-2 from the field. "I'm going to look within myself and go out there and figure it out."
It seems unlikely that Hibbert will be able to just flip some switch after struggling for so long, but Indiana is holding out hope that he can. Otherwise, this could be a short series against the Wizards and Hibbert will be subject to even more digs from former players.