Tonight the Spurs and Thunder tip off in San Antonio to determine this year’s Western Conference champion. Unfortunately, the 2-seed Thunder are without their defensive bulwark in the paint, Serge Ibaka, who suffered a calf injury in Game 6 against the Clippers and appears done for the postseason. Except, the skeptical Spurs are preparing for the series as if he’s healthy.
The Spurs coasted in their Western Conference Semifinal against the Blazers after Dallas extended them to a pivotal Game 7 in the first round. Conversely, the Thunder advanced after a seven-game humdinger in the first round followed by six savage games against the Clippers, with the Donald Sterling fiasco hovering over the series like a bloated specter choking on his own bulls*** to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
It’s highly doubtful Ibaka could play even if the Thunder advance past the Conference Finals. Still, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has his team talking like Ibaka might show up anyway, almost as if they’re preparing for any hoodwinking on the Thunder’s part.
Per ESPN.com, comes these quotes from a pair of dubious Spurs stars:
“I don’t really believe [Ibaka is done],” point guard Tony Parker told reporters Sunday. “I’ll believe when I see tomorrow he is not on the court. It’s hard to believe. We’ll see.”
Added Kawhi Leonard: “We’re still not sure if he’s going to play or not, but it doesn’t matter.”
Come again? This would be an all-time sprinkle of gamesmanship if the Thunder were really preparing to unveil a dressed Ibaka ready to go for Game 1.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich added to the San Antonio Express News, “It’s really a waste of time. When the game starts, everybody will know what’s going on and everybody will adjust both ways.”
If any team could handle an abrupt change after a — still highly doubtful — bit of chicanery, it’s Pop’s Spurs. But they almost seem paranoid about Ibaka’s chances to suit up, and we doubt they’ll be so unbelieving when Ibaka is in street clothes tonight.
Willis Reed isn’t walking through that door any time soon. This is still just the Conference Finals, but it points to how locked in Popovich’s bunch is with just one series to win before they get a chance for revenge after last year’s heartbreaking Finals loss.
Will Ibaka play at all against San Antonio?
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