MIAMI — Thunder forward Serge Ibaka has a bone to pick with all of those NBA coaches that helped LeBron James pile up the most votes on the All-Defensive team balloting.
Not only does Ibaka think little of James as a defender, he hasn’t seen anything from the Heat star in The Finals to change his mind … not even that fourth quarter work James produced in Game 3 defending Thunder star Kevin Durant.
In a hard-fought series that has been short on extra curricular drama, Ibaka’s words, per Tom D”Angelo of The Palm Beach Post, would qualify as the closest thing anyone has seen to real trash talk:
“LeBron is not a good defender,” Ibaka said about the player who received the most votes for the league’s all-defensive team, which is selected by the coaches.
“He can play defense for two to three minutes but not 48 minutes.”
James was switched onto Durant after Game 1 when Durant scored 36 points and shot 12-of-20 with Shane Battier primarily covering him. Since, Durant is averaging 28.5 points on 23-of-41 shooting and Heat have won two games, taking a 2-1 series lead into Tuesday’s Game 4.
“LeBron can’t play (Durant) one-on-one,” Ibaka said. “They’re playing good defense like a team.”
This is probably not the kind of chatter Thunder coach Scott Brooks needs his team worrying with on game day, but he has no choice now.
And for the record, Ibaka’s view of what makes a “good defender” differs dramatically from ours. We’ll give him a pass this time, it’s the least we could do for the league’s top shot blocker.
But if he’s going to pick a verbal fight, he needs to choose an easier target next time.