The NBA playoffs have suddenly revolved around injuries. Paul George managed to avoid getting taken out of the NBA playoffs despite a suspected concussion, yet Serge Ibaka had already been ruled out of the postseason with his own calf injury. However, Ibaka and the Oklahoma City Thunder may be desperate enough to ignore that, as the Thunder's star defensemen is trying everything to come back for Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs on May 25.
Ibaka's condition was changed to day-to-day on May 23, despite earlier proclamations that he would be out for the rest of the playoffs. But that was before the Spurs thoroughly dominated the Thunder in two blowouts at San Antonio, especially in the paint.
Without Ibaka around, the Spurs had their way with the Thunder's defense, scoring over 120 points in the paint in two games. Of course, San Antonio has controlled Oklahoma City in every other area of the Western Conference finals thus far as well.
As such, the Thunder need to find a spark any way they can get it, and it seems they are counting on Ibaka to give it to them. Yet even if the Thunder can keep Ibaka from further injuries, would his mere presence be enough to stop the team's bleeding? What's more, even if Ibaka is effective, would he be enough to stop the Spurs at this point?
These teams' past history together in the NBA playoffs has been the Thunder's other ray of hope so far. The last time they met in the Western Conference finals, the Spurs won the first two games at San Antonio in 2012 before Oklahoma City won the next four. A Game 3 win at home, with or without Ibaka, would certainly fuel hope for the Thunder -- and fear for the Spurs -- that history could repeat itself after all.
Both conference finals are now hinging on the questionable health of major contributors. The Indiana Pacers avoided having to sit George for a concussion, yet time will tell if he is still healthy enough to help them beat the Miami Heat -- or if corners were cut for him to get a chance. Ibaka's fate is still up in the air, yet time will tell if pushing for his quick return will be worth it, for himself and his team.