San Antonio Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich made it very clear to the press a week ago that he wasn’t going to assume that Oklahoma City Thunder power forward, Serge Ibaka would be out indefinitely for the remainder of the post season with a left calf strain. “I don’t really believe it,” Popovich grumbled when asked questions about Ibaka’s absence. “It’s hard to believe. We’ll see.”
Turns out, Popovich was right not to fall for all the talk.
Ibaka had a massive impact in front of his home crowd and helped OKC take a crucial Game 3, 106-97. The supposed ailing player scored a total of 15 points, nabbed seven rebounds, and blocked four shots. With the help of Russell Westbrook’s 26 points and Kevin Durant’s 25, the Thunder were able outscore the Spurs 52-36 in order to hop right back into the playoffs, cutting San Antonio lead in the series 2-1 in a best-of-seven.
Poor defense played a huge part in the fall of San Antonio, especially in the first half of the game. However, things didn’t fare too well during the second half either, with Ibaka going wild and blocking nearly everything he possibly could to put OKC up 71-65 with 5:42 left in the third quarter. The only thing really keeping the Spurs alive were the three-pointers knocked down by Manu Ginobili, who put 23 points on the board for San Antonio, but it wasn’t enough to win the game. Ginobili left limping into the Spurs’ locker room during the final leg of the game, and it’s unclear whether he’ll be okay or not (apparently he retreated back to the locker room to ice his sore foot), but that didn’t stop Popovich from joking about his injury when asked during the press conference following the loss. “He’ll be fine. Or he’s out for the rest of the playoffs.”
Both teams face again in Game 4 on Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.