Hopefully, what was also going through Hibbert’s mind was realizing what it would take to be on that same stage. One key towards winning an NBA title that was lost in the celebration on Thursday night was the importance of the 82-game regular-season.
NBA fans have perhaps forgotten the importance of the regular-season in terms of how it relates to the playoffs. Hibbert and the Pacers had their chance to beat the Heat but lost defensively in Game 7, which was in Miami. The San Antonio Spurs had a 3-2 lead over the Heat, but lost 4-3 with the last two gams being in Miami.
In those two cases, the fact that the Heat had the best regular-season record and were able to secure Game 7 at their home arena was critical.
Hibbert’s regular season numbers weren’t as good as his playoff figures. What he and his teammates have to realize is that they have to avoid late-season slumps.
Having Game 7 at home doesn’t always guarantee victory. But in Miami’s case, it was huge for their Game 7 win over the Pacers and the same against San Antonio. For Hibbert and the Pacers, a solid 82-game regular season, with perhaps the league’s best record, should be their No. 1 goal for next season. There are no guarantees, but it’s still the best path toward an NBA title.