Cumberland Times-News

Basketball

May 25, 2014

Ibaka could help Thunder improve defense vs. Spurs

The 6-foot-10 power forward walking without a limp

OKLAHOMA CITY — Serge Ibaka walked slowly and carefully, but without a limp, before facing reporters Saturday afternoon.
Much has been made of the Oklahoma City defensive star’s absence in the first two games of the Western Conference finals series against the San Antonio Spurs. The 6-foot-10 power forward strained his left calf in the previous playoff series, and the Thunder said they expected him to be out for the playoffs. The team changed course Friday and declared him day-to-day. He worked out Saturday, but he didn’t practice before addressing the media for the first time since his outlook changed.
With Ibaka, the league’s leading shot blocker, the Thunder were one of the best defensive teams the NBA. Without him, the Spurs shot at least 50 percent in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals and won them by a combined 52 points. As he stood for the five-minute session wearing a black compression sock over the calf, he deflected claims that he could be a savior heading into Game 3 on Sunday.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying my team lost two games because I was out,” he said. “That’s not true. I believe in my guys. I believe in my teammates. They can be better with me or without me.  It’s no excuse because Serge Ibaka was not there. Just San Antonio, the first two games, they played better basketball.”
Ibaka said he sometimes screamed at his television set when he watched scenarios in which he could have made plays during the losses. He is not sure if he will play in Game 3 — he said it is up to doctors, and much will depend on how he feels in the morning. For now, he will depend largely on rest, ice and luck.

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