For the second straight year the Thunder have lost a key player during playoff time. Last year it was Russell Westbrook with a knee, this year it’s Serge Ibaka with a calf injury.
Ibaka left Thursday night’s game late in the fourth quarter after coming up lame. He limped to the locker room for evaluation and was not heard from again the rest of the night. Most Thunder fans probably shifted his injury to the back of their minds as the team clinched its third trip in four years to the WCF — but now reality has sunk in. Their starting power forward is done for the rest of the postseason.
As for the exact injury Ibaka has, no one is quite sure. It’s just being called a left calf injury and MRI results showed that he wouldn’t be able to play anymore this year.
The focus will now shift to other OKC bigs like Steven Adams and Kendrick Perkins in Ibaka’s absence. Adams has been playing really well as of late, but he’ll really have to step up his game against the veteran San Antonio Spurs who know how to bully.
In addition, it’s time for the Thunder to rely heavily on Kevin Durant. The MVP has shown flashes of greatness throughout the postseason, but now is the time for him to elevate his game to yet another new level if he wants to return to the Finals.
OKC can overcome the loss of Ibaka, it’s just going to take a lot of extra work from the rest of the roster.