OKC suffer more injury misery after losing Westbrook in playoffs last year.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been dealt a huge injury blow as power forward Serge Ibaka is expected to miss the rest of the post-season with a left calf strain.
Ibaka suffered the injury in Oklahoma City’s series-clinching win on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, and general manager Sam Presti has called it a Grade 2 strain of the plantaris which takes time to heal and strengthen because of a high re-injury rate.
Presti conceded that it is unlikely that Ibaka will return even if the Thunder make it past the Spurs, and it is undoubtedly a big loss for the team losing their defensive anchor and third scoring option.
“I just want to express our disappointment for Serge, who, as we all know, is an elite competitor and someone that has proven to be a tremendous teammate,” Presti said, as reported by ESPN.
“He was playing great basketball throughout the season. He’s had a huge impact on our season to date.”
It is the second consecutive year that the Thunder have suffered a significant loss through injury after point guard Russell Westbrook sustained a torn ACL in the first round against the Houston Rockets last season.
While the Rockets rallied to win that series in his absence, Presti is confident that the Thunder can use that experience to their advantage and remain focused on the task in hand without the services of Ibaka.
The Spanish star averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 13 playoff games while he notched career highs during the regular season with 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while leading the league in total blocks with 219.
Nevertheless, the Spurs will start the series on Monday with their own injury woes as point guard Tony Parker continues to recover from a hamstring strain.
Coach Gregg Popovich revealed on Friday that Parker is hopeful of being ready for Game 1, as the Spurs look to erase memories of being swept by Oklahoma City in the regular season.