Spurs won’t be surprised to see Ibaka

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com

Let’s just say it happens when you have a team that is populated by veterans who have been around the block so many times that they’ve worn a rut into the block.

They get suspicious, skeptical, well, downright cynical.

That’s why Tony Parker has expected to see Serge Ibaka play all along.

“I don’t really believe it,” Parker said on the eve of Game 1 after the Thunder held a press conference to announce that their power forward would miss the series and probably the rest of the playoffs. “I’ll believe when I see…he is not on the court. It’s hard to believe. We’ll see.”

So, in addition to becoming quite a good basketball team, it seems the Spurs have learned a bit about seeing through smoke screens after all these years. With the word coming down that OKC could get its defensive stopper back into the lineup — maybe even for Game 3 on Sunday — the Spurs are taking it in stride.

“Shocked. So surprised,” coach Gregg Popovich told reporters as the sarcasm practically dripped down his chin. “Like I told you from the beginning, we know (Thunder general manager) Sammy (Presti). We knew he’d be back.”

“It doesn’t change anything,” said forward Tim Duncan. “We’re going to play the same way, attack the same way and hopefully have the same results.”

Ibaka averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the playoffs before straining a muscle in his left calf in Oklahoma City’s Game 6 clinching win over the Clippers.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks repeatedly and emphatically had insisted that Ibaka was “not coming back.”

Without their defensive anchor in the middle of the lineup, OKC’s defense has been a virtual sieve as the Spurs have scored 122 and 112 points and rumbled to 66 and 54 points in the paint, getting to the basket at will. In addition, Ibaka’s absence at the offensive end has taken away a third scoring option outside of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and create problems for the Thunder in spacing the floor.

But now that door is cracked open and all the Spurs say is that they aren’t exactly thunderstruck or shaken to their core.

18 Comments

  1. rcandcess says:

    Let’s just say Ibaka did play for the first two games. Statistically, you can add his point averages to OKC’s final score and they still would have lost. Ibaka’s comeback is somewhat reminiscent of Willis Reed’s heroics, but the effects won’t probably be the same. It’s 2014 guys. Wake up.

  2. okc2014 says:

    OKC is losing my support. They not only fake injury and they only support KD but not my beloved Westbrook. Why? They both are chucker with no basketball IQ. Why only support KD?

  3. Patrick says:

    OKC can’t win this series with or without Ibaka. Westbrook continues to complain about every foul or violation called and was caught on cam, giving Durant a hard time. Westbrook will be the downfall of OKC because he’s NOT a team player. Spurs in 5 max, if not a sweep!!

  4. ng says:

    You all says it doesnt change anything but it does kd can play his regular position that he know and size wise they would be the bigger team

  5. mdb2384 says:

    What a joke to say that with Ibaka series would be tied. Where’s the naive okc fans saying thunder would sweep spurs like in regular season? Conveniently forgot that 3 of those games spurs were dealing with injuries. Ibaka might have made game 1 close, but game 2 would still be a blowout. When you count on 2 players to be hot to win, you set yourself up for disaster when they’re not. No James Harden this time around either to pull off a miracle comeback to win the series.

  6. Mike says:

    Desperation move. The Thunder would prop Ibaka up with scaffolding and sticky tape just to get him on the floor. He might make a difference in game 3 but he won’t be able to hold out long enough to get 4 wins. OKC are going to risk running their future into the ground for a chance at getting 1 win. Shame on you.

  7. Spurs14 says:

    Yeah, and If IF’S & BUTS were candy & nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas!

  8. okc2014 says:

    I don’t think Ibaka and the Thunder faked the injury. I think Ibaka is coming back from injury because his team needs him. And they do. And there will be a big difference. A win. How do you like them apples?

    • 36yrfan says:

      ….I’m sure the injury wasn’t “faked”…….just a re-diagnosis…….BUT….. Spurs will still win the series…….and you know what 2014….. it would be nice to have a little competition in this series to warm-up for the FINALS……… PS: yes….them apples are good….

  9. paul murray says:

    If injury has been exaggerated, Ibaka and the team should be fined heavily. This kind of bull is for hockey(lower body injury, upper body injury) not basketball.

    • kd's abeast says:

      He even said if he came back he wud b playing with 100% pain its clear, serge is forcing hisself because he realize his team needs him.

  10. Frank says:

    Spurs will sweep OKC! with ot without IBAKA! remember Spurs is the best the on the road!

  11. itai says:

    Great mind-games between two great teams.
    Like in Boxing

    GO SPURS GO

  12. Brainundrum says:

    I suspect that even if Ibaka plays, it will be one or more of the following:

    1) Limited minutes
    2) Early re-injury/aggrevation
    3) a slower, less aggressive Ibaka

    I also don’t expect much to change in regards to this series outcome

    Spurs will still take this series in either a sweep or 5.

  13. jdub455 says:

    Doesn’t change anything a lot though… actually, it can be detrimental to the future of OKC.. OKC is a young talented team, and forcing one of its most important pieces to play against a better team in the Spurs can prove to be the undoing of ibaka. Spurs are just too smart for this young team. Hell, I’m a heat fan and I want OKC to win cause that would ensure the heat’s 3 peat but as expected, the finals will be a rematch with a twist though… the spurs has homecourt advantage…

    • 36yrfan says:

      ….Indeed !!!! !

    • kd's abeast says:

      Ok first if okc wins doesn’t mean heat win bcuz we can always go small nd not play perks, 2nd no one is forcing ibaka except for hisself. Plz he wudnt make a difference, thats BS, ibaka only allows 40 points in the paint at most so the spurs wud have lost game 1 and won game 2 so with him aeries wud b tied at least.

      • Heat Fan 3peat! says:

        You’re kidding…Go small? LOL! You’re going to have more than that to beat the Heat! The Thunder are no match for the Heat, never have been but the Spurs are. Heat have championships & the Thunder zip. Thunder are a young talented team but it is not their year & they would have to fix a few things before they are of championship caliber like the Heat or Spurs. On the other hand the Thunder are still reeling & smarting from when they were eliminated from the finals by the Heat several years ago. Thunder would like a rematch I’m sure, for the Heat an easy win & 3rd championship with or without Ibaka, he’s not the whole team. Where is the rest of the team btw? Stop making excuses for these terrible losses, he is not the issue or the lack of him. Don’t think you can take out the HEAT by what the Thunder are currently doing, which is somewhat nothing or not enough. Now The Spurs, that’s a different story & rematch waiting to happen & worth seeing because of last year. Would like it to be 4-0 but not likely because of the way the Spurs are playing. So it could possibly go 7 games, hope not though. Go HEAT 3peat!