The Thunder will be without Serge Ibaka for the remainder of the Playoffs, the team announced on Friday. Ibaka suffered a calf injury on an innocuous play in the third quarter of OKC’s Game 6 closeout win against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
With Ibaka now out of commission, the Thunder are in dire trouble heading into the Western Conference finals against Spurs. TrueOKC’s Royce Young explains what the injury means for OKC’s title hopes:
We’re talking about a team missing its third-best player. That’s not just something you can overcome with a positive outlook. Ibaka’s impact isn’t as direct as Westbrook’s or Durant’s, but Ibaka is a perfect offensive pressure release with his pick-and-pop game at the elbows and his ability to catch and finish in traffic.
He’s an anchor on the defensive end, allowing Thunder perimeter defenders to pressure pick-and-rolls and close out on shooters aggressively, knowing there’s insurance waiting at the rim.
So, the question is: Can the Thunder still beat the Spurs?
It was a maybe before, and it remains as such, although now it’s much flimsier. [...] If the Thunder’s season ends in failure, it will carry along another caveat. Last season it was about Westbrook; a playoff exit this season would be about Ibaka.
Backups Perry Jones, Nick Collison and Steven Adams will see more minutes in Ibaka’s absence. The Thunder and Spurs will tip off in Game 1 at 9 p.m. EST on Monday.