With the devastating news being reported by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti that Thunder Forward Serge Ibaka would miss the remainder of the playoffs due to a Stage II calf injury. Many of us would say that the Thunder season is over. OKC has one of the deepest benches in years, Steven Adams, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jones will have to step up if the Thunder want to survive the number one overall seed; the San Antonio Spurs.
Brooks has prepared for an unexpected injury all season long with his rotations. Durant has been down this road before; losing his running mate. Last year when Westbrook went down it was okay for everyone to say that our season was over, we knew we couldn’t get past Memphis with one of the top ten players in the league.
The Thunder average 103.8 points per 48 minutes with Ibaka on the floor, the team shoots 46.8% from the field. And when he’s on the bench the team averages 95.5 points per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.
“We are obviously disappointed for Ibaka, as he is a tremendous competitor, and we know how badly he wants to be on the court with his teammates,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in his statement “At this point it is important that our team directs its concentration and energy towards preparation and execution for our upcoming series. As with all teams, our group has confronted different challenges. It is our collective experience that we will call on to ensure that we play to our capabilities.”
Brooks coached the Thunder to the second best record in the NBA 59-23 without a top ten player in Russell Westbrook. Now the Thunder are dealt with the season ending injury to Ibaka, Perry Jones III from Baylor has been shown in the pass that he’ll be the player who gets the call from Scott Brooks to fill the shoes in for Ibaka.
Collison’s leadership and veteran experience will be highly needed, along with his dashing hair. Adams with have to defend the rim without fouling out, his value to the team skyrocketed when Ibaka went down.
Perkins ability to go one-on-one with guards will be important in this series if Westbrook, Jackson, and Fisher don’t get back on defense in time.
Durant and Westbrook will need another scorer to help them, it’ll have to be Jackson who has lit up San Antonio this year, Butler, or Lamb. Brooks will have to use the cards he has to out play and out coach a great San Antonio offense.
Ibaka’s injury was a devastating blow to our championship run, but not all hope is lost. If the Thunder have any shot of getting past the Spurs, our role plays will have to step up. Fast break points are the key to this series. San Antonio has proven they cannot guard Jackson or Westbrook. If the Thunder pile up the points in open floor, the Spurs will be too tired to keep up with them. Also if the paint hold, we will have no problem advancing to the NBA Finals.
Our title fans took a blow, but they are still alive.