On one end, you have the seven-two titan making his presence felt inside the paint, letting everyone know in Bankers Life Fieldhouse that anywhere near the hoop is his zone. To Hawks forward Ivan Johnson, sorry for being in the way of the boom shaka-laka.
In the very next quarter, not to be outdone, you have a man who’s confidence is building since the last game of the season. Jumping into outer-space is nothing new to him, and sometimes, he makes it look a little too easy. To Hawks forward Josh Smith, sorry for being in the way of the rim-rattling dunk.
Both Roy Hibbert and Gerald Green made their presence known inside the paint during the first half of the Pacers 113-98 victory in game two on Wednesday night, bringing home monstrous slam dunks that brought the Pacer faithful to their feet. The spectacular plays were just one of many highlights that energized Indiana on their way to double-digit victory, taking full command of the series as they head to Atlanta for Saturday night’s game three.
Often, dunks of such magnitude are considered “poster” dunks, or could not be referred to as being “Youtubed” with how quick the highlights spring across the internet after one takes place. But sticking with the original name, if you could pick a poster of any dunk (thus proving which one would be better), which one would you choose?
First, a look at the big man’s jam, taking place with 1:43 left in the first quarter. As Pacers point guard George Hill dribbled the ball up the court, Hibbert slowed himself down at the top of the key, putting himself in perfect position to set a pick on Hawks guard Devin Harris. Hibbert caught him perfectly with a hip that stuck out a little to slow Harris down, Hibbert’s defender Johan Petro bought the bait, and a pick-and-roll was set up. At the bottom of the paint waiting for it however was Ivan Johnson, who unfortunately for him had his feet inside the circle. Hibbert, having no regard for human life, spring-boarded with in a way rarely seen for him, and sent a pulverizing one-handed slam towards the hoop as he knocked Johnson down to the ground.
“George Hill just did a great job,” said Hibbert, who finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds on the night. “I came off the screen, and he hit me at the right time. I elevated and I finished it.”
Gerald Green, his competitor in this challenge, would give Hibbert’s dunk a pretty positive review after the game.
“That is the best dunk I have seen Roy do ever,” said Green. “I wasn’t shocked that he went up strong, I was shocked that he dunked it like that. That was just an incredible play.”
Green would go on to say that for a big-man to get off his feet quite like Roy did, along with the and-one that took place during the play, that Hibbert’s dunk was the better of the two. Pacers guard D.J. Augustin, who also had nothing but compliments for Roy on his big play, did get a little fun poked in at the big guy.
“When I saw the play, I had no idea what was going on,” said Augustin. “It was the slowest dunk I had ever seen! But it’s good for Roy, he got the dunk and I am happy for him.”
The second act of phi slamma jamma took place at the 6:33 mark in the second quarter, and this time it was a man that has no fear of flight. Green, who has been on a bit of a roll with 34 points in the final game of the season against Philadelphia, 11 points in game one, and 15 points in game two on Wednesday night, found himself catching a Augustin pass with Jeff Teague perfectly placed beside him so a spin move would leave him in the dust. Hawks center Al Horford would attempt to cross over the lane in an act of help defense, but Green was hustling full-force straight towards the hoop. However, Atlana forward Josh Smith found himself rotating towards the basket as the last ray of hope from stopping Green for the easy two points.
Smith may have went up for the dunk, but Green looked as if he used moon-shoes to shoot straight up into the air. Not only did Green go up higher, but Green also had a purer angle at the basket, allowing him to come down harder as his body crashed into Smith and the ball slammed through the hoop.
“I knew Josh was coming or that one of them was coming,” said Green. “So I just tried to go up strong and make a play.”
Unlike Hibbert, who had the ability due to the foul on the play to walk around while staring aimlessly and high-fiving teammates with a blank stare on his face, while Green loses jam-points for perhaps posing at Horford and bellowing out a yell following the play. Celebrating opens up the window for getting back late on defense, and Green is lucky to have not gotten burned.
However, Hibbert had no problem giving Green his overall nod as the best slam of the night.
“Gerald Green’s dunk was way better than mine to tell the truth,’ said Hibbert. “His was against a great shot-blocker, so his should be top-ten. He is an athletic beast.”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the choice is yours to make as to which one both impresses you the most, and which dunk is your favorite of the two. However, both players know that the dunks from game two are behind them, and they mean nothing if Indiana can’t get any wins starting in game three when they travel to Atlanta this weekend.
“We need to keep doing what we are doing,” said Green.
“Keep playing Pacers basketball, not to get too far ahead of ourselves as the series is not over with. We know Atlanta is going to bring a lot of intensity. Being their home court, they will definitely be motivated. So we need to keep doing what we are doing and play Pacers basketball so we can come out with the win.”