Terrible news out of Oklahoma City as it is being reported that power forward Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the playoffs with a grade 2 strain of the plantaris. It's an injury that takes a lot of time to heal and strengthen because of a high re-injury rate.
This does not bode well for the Thunder, as they will now have to face the San Antonio Spurs without one of their main cogs for their Western Conference Finals showdown, that now heavily favors the Spurs. Ibaka suffered the left calf injury in game 6 of Oklahoma City's series-clinching win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a conference call with the media, that Ibaka is likely to miss the whole playoffs, even if the Thunder make it past the Spurs. Ibaka's MRI on Friday night confirmed the severity of the injury, and now the Thunder will have to manage without their third-best player, and defensive anchor.
Ibaka set career highs this season, averaging 15.1 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game and he also led the league in total blocks for the fourth year in a row with 219 blocks (2.7 per game). Ibaka has looked pretty impressive in this years' playoffs, averaging 12.2 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game and 2.2 blocks per game. The numbers don't look overly impressive, but his effect on the team can be seen with other stats: During the playoffs, the Thunder score 103.8 points per 48 minutes on 46.1% shooting with a +/- of +5.7 when Ibaka is on the court, compared to 95.5 points per 48 minutes on 41.9% shooting with a +/- of -2.1 when Ibaka is not on the court. That is a massive difference in production, so losing Ibaka is a massive blow to the team who will need all of the help they can get for the Spurs.
San Antonio, meanwhile, also has it's own injury concern, as star point guard Tony Parker is currently injured with a strained hamstring. The Spurs will open Game 1 of the series on Monday and they are hopeful Parker will be able to play.
The only thing Oklahoma City can fall back on now is that they swept the four game, regular season series against the Spurs this season, though Ibaka played all four of those games.