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Serge Ibaka May Start Shooting Drills This Week

The San Antonio Spurs exploited the absence of Serge Ibaka in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals last night. Without their starting power forward, the Oklahoma City Thunder had no interior defensive presence to prevent the Spurs from scoring in the paint all night. Even though he is expected to miss the rest of the playoffs, Ibaka is not giving up on the possibility of a return.

Leading up to the Conference Finals, several Spurs players were not convinced Ibaka was out for good. This report, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, is likely to fuel the skepticism:

Deep down, Ibaka understands his medical timetable couldn’t possibly include a return to these conference finals, but no one has yet talked him out of the belief he’d be back in the lineup if the Thunder advanced to the NBA Finals, a source said. The Thunder believed this injury would be a one-to-two-month recovery period. Without a tear in that plantaris muscle, though, Ibaka wants to believe it can be sooner.

For now, this still seems like a far-fetched idea, considering the regular recovery time for this type of injury. Keep in mind, Ibaka did not travel with the team to San Antonio, so the earliest timetable for any return would be Game 3. Game 2 is tomorrow, then the teams get a three day break before playing on Sunday. Ibaka is going to try go through some shooting drills later this week, and test whether he can play through the pain. But when asked about it after last night’s game, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks shot the idea down:

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The Thunder found out in Game 1 just how much they miss Ibaka’s presence, especially on the defensive end. San Antonio shot an incredible 20 for 26 in the paint during the first half. The high percentage of converted shots at the basket is concerning, but what’s more alarming is the 26 attempts.

This is the type of injury the Thunder could probably withstand in another series, but not against these Spurs. And if the team doesn’t find a way to fix those defensive issues in Game 2, the series won’t go long enough for Ibaka to even consider making a comeback.

What do you think?

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