May 12, 2013, 3:46 PM EDT
The Thunder are going to need to get Kevin Durant some help on the offensive end of the floor if they’re going to have any chance to win three of the next four games against the Grizzlies to advance to the Conference finals.
Serge Ibaka isn’t traditionally known as one of OKC’s main options offensively, but in the past he’s at least been able to convert the open looks he did get inside at a relatively high percentage.
In this series against the Grizzlies, however, Ibaka has struggled mightily. And it isn’t necessarily the Memphis defense that’s been the reason for his troubles.
Ibaka finished 6-of-17 from the field in Game 3, which is actually somewhat respectable considering how his afternoon started. He missed his first four shots, two of which were wide open dunks that he bounced off the back of the rim. He also missed an easy put-back layup, and some other open looks around the rim that he usually gets to go.
Both head coach Scott Brooks and Kevin Durant acknowledged Ibaka’s issues afterward, but each said they’d continue to stick with him throughout his current slump. Durant in particular seems to feel that whatever is going on with Ibaka, the adjustment needs to be mental rather than physical.
“We have to get him confidence,” Durant said of Ibaka. “We have to get him some shots and get him going. We can’t let him put too much pressure on himself. It’s all in his mind. If he thinks he’s going to make those shots, he’s going to make them.
“He missed a few blocks, a few layups and a few open jump shots. I have to pick him up, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Ibaka isn’t necessarily the offensive key to the Thunder’s success, and defensively, he’s been doing a fine job of helping to limit the effectiveness of Zach Randolph on the low block.
But if he’s going to be open for 17 shot attempts as he was in Game 3 — the same amount taken by Kevin Martin, and just two fewer than were taken by Durant, who played 46 of the game’s 48 minutes — then his shot chart needs to look a lot prettier than this if the Thunder are going to have a chance.
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