MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Finding a weakness in the Miami Heat has perplexed opponents for the last two years, but the Indiana Pacers may have solved the problem by driving a 7’2”, 260 pound hole through the middle of the Heat’s defense.
The Pacers are going to ride center Roy Hibbert, the aforementioned 7’2” monster, as far as he can take them this year. Indiana’s size with Hibbert is the one and only weakness the Heat have as the calendar turns over to 2014.
Hibbert’s physicality is too much for the Heat’s Chris Bosh and Chris Anderson to handle and his height give problems if the Heat wants to play small ball. It poses a problem for Miami that could put a Heat three-peat in serious jeopardy.
Hibbert has seen his minutes jump almost every season he’s been in the league and his points per game are higher this year than any other year in his career. For the season, Hibbert has averaged 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game.
Breaking it down further, Hibbert has a player efficiency rating of 19.3 on the season and a win-share of 2.7 after posting a win-share last season of 6.1. Hibbert also grabs nearly 20 percent of his team’s defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor.
The Heat has only one answer for Hibbert and it’s not a sure thing, center Greg Oden. If Oden can put his knee issues behind him and give the Heat 10 minutes a night when the playoffs roll around, especially against the Pacers; it could be enough to neutralize Indiana’s advantage.
When healthy, Oden is a solid defensive center that can alter an opponent’s gameplan. He’s also a good rebounder that could help get Miami into transition faster, which is lethal to all Heat opponents.
The problem is Oden’s knees. He’s not played in the regular season thus far, and right now the Heat don’t need him to, yet. The Heat is bringing Oden along very slowly as he tries to get back into game shape and is monitoring his knees after every team activity.
At 7’ tall and weighing upwards of 265 pounds, Oden could be the great equalizer for the Heat heading into the playoffs. But until he can get onto the court consistently, Hibbert will continue to eat the Heat’s defense up and Indiana will remain the biggest mountain the Heat have to overcome, literally and figuratively.