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Kevin Durant says Serge Ibaka’s shooting problems are ‘all in his mind’

May 12, 2013, 3:46 PM EDT

Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant AP

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.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:

“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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  1. patfic15 - May 12, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Here’s an idea , Serge. Stop shooting that jump shot that you’ve missed shot after shot this postseason. How about you and that slob Perkins stay inside and leave the shooting to the actual “shooters”.

  2. melkipershero - May 12, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Knowing Russ is hurt puts a lot of pressure on everyone else including Durant. Ibaka is improving but has not been a “knockdown shooter.”

  3. cmehustle - May 12, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    They basically chose Ibaka over Harden, correctly assuming it would be better for their team with two max players instead of three. That being said with what Ibaka is being paid, and knowing that he’s going to have to take the reigns at center from Perkins he’s gotta start stepping up in the postseason. Last postseason he also disappeared. Here’s hoping this doesnt become a trend, they are much better when Ibaka is hitting that jumper.

  4. badintent - May 13, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Serge. Dunk the ball. High percentage shot.Next queston.

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