The return of Oklahoma City Thunder’s Serge Ibaka in Game 3 was something out of a feelgood movie. Just as the antagonist in the San Antonio Spurs appeared to have the young guns on the ropes, then a hero emerges from an injury to save the day. Well, the Spurs need to add a plot twist to this story by exploiting Ibaka.
The latest reports on the health of Ibaka have proved to be promising for the Thunder, and they expect him to be ready for Tuesday night’s game. But Ibaka still won’t be 100 percent and he showed his weakness in the previous game. He even had to leave the game at one point because of his calf, and this is the opportunity that the Spurs’ offense must take.
If San Antonio can devise a game plan that consists of challenging Ibaka to move and defend, they should be able to wear him down. They need to consider forcing him to guard the pick and roll action the Spurs run so well. They can stretch him out on the floor and make him guard dribble penetration to test the legitimacy of his calf.
Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili cannot afford to settle for jumpers tonight, especially on the road. If they force the action and take everything to the basket, they put physical pressure on Ibaka to contest at the rim. He may block a few shots, but they should be able get him in foul trouble by the end of the night.
The Thunder rode the emotional wave that Ibaka provided with his 15 points and were able to pull off the easy victory amidst the feelgood story. The Spurs must play the villain tonight by destroying the hero in Ibaka and shifting the momentum back to its rightful owner.