2014 Western Conference Finals: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The hype of his comeback alone will surely motivate the Thunder to come out even harder and more motivated to run away with the win early. Not only that, but OKC’s home crowd has debatably the best energy in the NBA (Warriors,
Heat) to pump up their team, as seen by OKC’s 34-7 home record this season—tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for best home record in the West.
“We’re surprised that we’re here, although grateful that he’s made enough progress to say he’s not ruled out,” Presti said of Ibaka. “I think it’s important, when you look at this, to recognize that we’re not saying that he’s playing, but what we’re really trying to indicate is that the information is telling us that we can’t rule him out.”
“A big part of this is the swelling in his calf has reduced incredibly rapidly, more so than any of us could’ve expected or our medical staff could’ve projected,” Presti said. “And as a result of that he’s demonstrating a function level and a stability level that’s better than where we thought we would be.”
“He’ll go through a battery of tests such as gamelike conditions, conditioning, and a lot of that is how he feels the following morning and what he’s able to tolerate,” Presti said.
Asked about the possibility of returning for Sunday’s game, Presti said, “The best way for me to answer that question is to say we can’t rule him out.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after Game 1 that Ibaka “was not coming through that door,” and on Friday he said the team is not planning and preparing for Ibaka to be ready Sunday, either.
“It’s changed from we thought he was going to be out to now it’s day-to-day, but he’s still out,” he said. “We’re still focusing on trying to beat the Spurs without him playing, and that has not changed. I know he’s listed as day-to-day, but he’s still out until I’m told differently.”
Ibaka has averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 13 playoff games. He averaged 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds in the regular season, both career highs.
Spurs fans, are we really shocked? Let’s hear from the other side (via Spurs Nation):
Manu Ginobili, on winning by 35 points: “These games are very dangerous. I enjoy winning by 30, (but) sometimes it isn’t reality. We have to take this game, move on and go on to the next one. They had a rough night and we didn’t turn the ball over a lick. It’s dangerous. We are going there now feeling like we are so great and we know that we aren’t.”
Tim Duncan, on not taking anything for granted with 2-0 lead: “We know what we are walking into. They are so much better at home. Their crowd is great. Their home court is great for them and they are going to have a lot of days to break down home and let it all fester. We know it will be a different team that we will be walking into. We have been here before, going up 2-0 only to lose the series. So we are going to keep our focus as well and do the same thing on our end.”
Tony Parker, on the same subject: “We just did our job. We won our first two games at home, and I’m sure they’re going to go back and say we have to do our job and win two games at home. We were in that position in 2012. We were up 2-0 and so I know nobody is very happy in our locker room. Everybody is focused, and we respect that team. We know that they’re very capable of a comeback, and they did that against us in 2012. We’re just very focused, and nobody is satisfied.”
Will Serge Ibaka will really be the difference maker for Game 3 against these San Antonio Spurs? Or will Tim Duncan and company find themselves within one game of returning to the 2014 NBA Finals.