ATLANTA (AP) - Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert was in the starting lineup for Game 4 of the NBA playoffs Saturday.
There was speculation Hibbert might be benched so the Pacers could go to a smaller lineup against the Atlanta Hawks. But coach Frank Vogel announced before the game that his 7-foot-2 center would be starting.
The eighth-seeded Hawks led No. 1 seed Indiana 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Hibbert was struggling to cope with an Atlanta team that's been spreading the court and forcing him away from the basket, which also seemed to be affecting his play at the offensive end.
He had only 25 points in the first three games and had yet to block a shot.
"He's struggling a little bit right now and he's got to play better," Vogel said.
The coach was asked what he wanted to see from Hibbert.
"Not to put pressure on himself," Vogel said. "To play extremely hard. More than anything, to defend (Atlanta forward) Paul Millsap. I think his work on that matchup has been overlooked. I think he's done a really good job on him. In the post-ups in particular. And then to finish plays around the basket. We're not asking him to score 25 points a game in the low post, you know? But just finish basketball plays and not try to do too much."
Vogel said he was thinking of the long-term implications of benching Hibbert so early in the playoffs, especially if the Pacers should advance.
"Yeah, it's part of it," the coach said. "We're hoping this is going to be a long haul. Look, you're down 2-1, you're not down 3-0. You won 56 games with the lineup with him as your starting center. And I think you stick with what you do. If it's not working and you have to adjust in-game, we'll adjust in-game."
AP Freelance Writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd contributed to this report.
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