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Gregg Popovich’s reaction to Serge Ibaka potentially returning for Game 3: ‘Shocked. I’m so surprised.’

May 23, 2014, 2:41 PM EST

Gregg Popovich AP

Serge Ibaka was initially ruled out for the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs, after suffering a pretty unlucky calf injury in the Thunder’s series-clinching win over the Clippers.

San Antonio wasn’t necessarily buying the diagnosis at the time, and as it turned out, their skepticism was justified.

The Thunder upgraded Ibaka’s status to day-to-day on Friday, and it now seems likely that we’ll see him on the court for Sunday’s Game 3 in Oklahoma City with essentially the season on the line.

Gregg Popovich reacted to the news exactly as you might expect.

Ibaka rushing back ahead of schedule to try to be there for his teammates is understandable, but unless he’s very close to 100 percent, his presence won’t make that much of a difference.

The qualities that make Ibaka so important to what the Thunder do on both ends of the floor are his shot blocking in help situations, along with his consistent ability to knock down the mid-range jumper. Doing either of those with a lingering calf injury could prove to be too tall a task, but as Popovich sarcastically noted, the fact that Ibaka is likely to give it a shot doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

  1. spursareold - May 23, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Pop, trolling the troller with Presti. Sam, he taught you this ish. It’s not going to work on him.

  2. opinevain - May 23, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    IBAKAAAAAAA

    • apkyletexas - May 23, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      Gin-oooooooooo-bili!!!!!!

    • sportsfan18 - May 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      I-BACK-ah

      • prokilla - May 23, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        I-Block-AAA

  3. fanofthegame79 - May 23, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    I called this 2 days ago and it wasn’t well received. But here we are, talking about Ibaka being “day to day” and potentially playing in game 3. You can’t count anything out of play until the series is over.

  4. finsfan71 - May 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Maybe this turns the series around, but I think not. 2012 is long gone.

  5. ProBasketballPundit - May 23, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    You can’t break the Serge Protector!

    • jimeejohnson - May 23, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      What if you come up behind him, reach around, and punch him in the balls?

      • goodtogo28 - May 23, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        come up behind him and give him a reach around?? with a name like that “jimee” and “johnson” it’s clear what you’re thinking in this instance.

  6. rodyaugu - May 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Ibaka flocka.

  7. markv00 - May 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    You don’t go from a season ending injury to day to day in that short amount of time. So either the Thunder are rushing him back (shortsighted), he’s rushing back at well less than 100% (poor decision by coaches to let him play), bad team doctor, or the Thunder thought this was a good strategy to rattle the Spurs, get blown out in 2 games and then bring Ibaka in from his “injury” to save the day.. Let’s say he play’s at is somewhere in the middle as far as health, the Thunder have other issues that were exposed in game 2. Westbrook and Durant (I like Durant) were losing faith in each other. The other guys were MIA, so at best this would be an emotional lift. But you can’t get to high or low at this level. Spurs will let Diaw and Splitter get physical with Ibaka and see if he holds up. Everything else stays the same. I always counted on one emotional win for OKC, so instead of a sweep maybe it goes 5. Remember after game 3 they play every other day so we’ll see. I do hope Serge is ok and doing what’s best for the long term..

  8. tombstone7 - May 23, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    CAN WE SAY SPORTS MEDICINE OR SHOULD WE SAY “DRUGS”

    BAD DECISION BECAUSE THE SPURS STILL WILL WIN AND IBAKA WILL DAMAGED GOODS GOING FORWARD!!!!!

    SHAME ON THE THUNDER!

  9. joerevs300 - May 23, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    Come on. If you’re surprised by this, well I don’t know what to tell you.

    He was hurt, but not to miss a whole series.

    OKC tried to rest him while stealing one in SA. It didn’t work out.

    Now they’ll try to come back and climb the mountain.

    Which looks like it’s ending in, IDK, a 5 game Spurs series victory?

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