Desperately in need of a big man who can protect the rim, the Oklahoma City Thunder may be getting Serge Ibaka back just in time for a must-win Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski sent out the following tweet just a few minutes ago:
OKC ran Ibaka through battery of tests on Thursday and his calf responded well. Still soreness but a Sunday Game 3 return is possible.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 23, 2014
While “possible” certainly doesn’t guarantee anything, this is a best case scenario for the Thunder. It had been widely assumed that Ibaka would miss the rest of the playoffs, and news of his return would really buoy the spirits of the beleaguered Thunder players.
More important than the emotional lift, of course, is Ibaka’s on-court impact. He is the Thunder’s best interior defender by a wide margin, an athletic freak who covers up many of the mistakes OKC makes on the defensive end. You can bet that, with Ibaka back on the floor, wide open layups like this won’t keep happening:
Even if he isn’t at full strength (which it seems like he won’t be), Ibaka represents a huge upgrade in the paint for Oklahoma City and gives them a chance at clawing their way back into this series.
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