The big name players of the Oklahoma City Thunder are the reason everyone expects the Thunder to face the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals. However, it is not the high-powered offense of Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook who will lead them to victory in the Western Conference again this season, but the defensive presence of Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka is a defensive monster in the post. He rebounds extremely well, but it is his blocking ability that transforms him into a game changer. He averages three blocks per game. It is not even the average that makes Ibaka’s ability so essential, but it is when he gets these blocks. He tends to block shots that can potentially change the outcome of the game. He has shown the ability to know when the game rests on his defensive ability. He is also a pretty decent scorer and any points he adds from the floor aids the rest of this Thunder team greatly.
Oklahoma City can ride the first few rounds of the playoffs on Westbrook and Durant’s scoring. But as the NBA playoffs draw closer to the Finals, it is their defense that will decide whether or not they advance. Whether or not the Thunder will defeat the Heat (let’s face it, no one else is coming out of the East) in the Finals will be determined by the play of Ibaka. Expect him to play well, and Oklahoma City to make it all the way to the NBA Finals as a result.