Oklahoma City Thunder Finding Serge Ibaka, But Key Veteran Must Come Through
Despite shooting a higher percentage from the field than both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook during the regular season, Serge Ibaka has had a miserable go of it offensively since Westbrook got knocked out by injury in Round 1. The Oklahoma City Thunder forward’s struggles continued Saturday in Game 3 against the stingy Memphis Grizzlies.
Ibaka wasn’t quite 1-for-10 bad from the field like in Game 1, but he also wasn’t too far off.
Between repeatedly missing open jumpers, emphatically missing an early open dunk and other missed opportunities, the increased scoring Ibaka gave the Thunder deceives somewhat. It’s frankly incredible that the Thunder entered the late portion of the fourth quarter with Ibaka and Durant both having taken the same amount of shots — so you know the Thunder are trying to get Ibaka kick-started — but at that point, Ibaka’s output only came to 6-for-17.
Ibaka found a way to manufacture a tough basket on NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol that put Oklahoma City within a point at the eight-minute mark. Perhaps he needs to take it to the rack more and not settle for as many jumpers — though he’s getting so many good looks mid-range, which he is typically good for until recently — before Ibaka heats up elsewhere.
Until then, however, Ibaka just isn’t looking quite right in nearly any facet of the game. That sequence I just described was followed by a microcosm of how south things have gone for Ibaka, with the Spanish national team forward dropping a pass under the hoop before missing an open right-wing jumper from just outside the paint.