Thunder F Serge Ibaka out for rest of postseason with calf injury
Thunder forward and defensive specialist Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the NBA playoffs because of a left calf injury.
Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sports
By Andrew Gilman
OKLAHOMA CITY -- For the second time in two seasons, the Thunder have lost a starter in the playoffs.
A season ago, it was Russell Westbrook. Now it's forward Serge Ibaka.
Friday, the team announced Ibaka will likely miss the rest of the playoffs with a left calf injury.
"We are obviously disappointed for Serge, as he is a tremendous competitor, and we know how badly he wants to be on the court with his teammates," said Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. "At this point, it is important that our team directs its concentration and energy towards preparation and execution for our upcoming series. As with all teams, our group has confronted different challenges. It is our collective experience that we will call on to ensure that we play to our capabilities."
Ibaka was injured in the third quarter Thursday night. Presti said it was a Grade 2 sprain of the calf behind the kneecap. Presti said the recovery process is lengthy because the the re-injury possibility is high. The severity of the injury is not long-term,Presti said and Presti went on to say it is unlikely Ibaka would be available for the Finals if the Thunder make it past San Antonio.
Ibaka is averaging 12.2 points on 61 percent shooting in the playoffs this season as well as 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. During the 2013-14 regular season, Ibaka had career-highs with 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds, while leading the league in blocks for the fourth-consecutive season with 219.
More importantly, Ibaka had played well against the Spurs averaging 14 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game.
"We'll have to adapt and we'll have to adjust," Presti said in a teleconference. "For us we have been in some situations in the past and how we respond to those has always been the measure of our team in OKC."
Last season, Westbrook was injured in the second game of the first round and didn't play again. The Thunder went on to beat Houston in six games but fell to Memphis in the second round in five games."
"We're going to need everybody," Presti said. "These are the reasons why. You have to deal with the unexpected. It's what you do in advance of that. We're more prepared than we have been."
The timing is unfortunate for the team, but rookie center Steven Adams played his best game of the season Thursday in the Game 6 win. He had 11 rebounds and 10 points in a season-high 40 minutes. Naturally, Adams will get a lot more minutes, but so could seldom-used center Hasheem Thabeet, who has played in one game and only 4 minutes this postseason, if Adams gets into foul trouble.
Coach Scott Brooks was not available for comment Friday to say for sure, and Presti deflected questions about player participation, but the injury could affect a lot of different pieces. Kevin Durant could move to Ibaka's position and the Thunder could insert either Caron Butler or Reggie Jackson into the starting lineup, or Nick Collison, who has averaged just 11.2 minutes per game, could get into the starting lineup in Ibaka's spot. Perry Jones, who has played no meaningful minutes and in just five games, would also be a candidate for quality minutes.