May 26, 2014, 4:38 PM EDT
The return of Serge Ibaka changed the Western Conference Finals in Game 3 — Oklahoma City could spread the floor more on offense (creating room for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to operate), and on defense Ibaka blocked four shots and had the Spurs altering shots and missing (San Antonio shot just 50 percent in the restricted area).
However, Ibaka was limping at points during the end of Game 3. Then he did not practice with the Thunder on Monday.
Doesn’t matter, he is going to play in Game 4 he said, as reported by ESPN.
“The good news is I’m not feeling worse, so that’s good,” Ibaka said. “I’m sure every day I’m going to feel better every day, but I’m not expecting to feel much better yet tomorrow. One thing I know, I expect to do a better job….
“It was kind of hard a little bit with my feet. I was using more my right foot than left foot,” Ibaka said. “I could not do too much last night because after we saw the video, I felt like I was slow, and I’m sure my legs, my coaches, they understand, and I’m going to try to do tomorrow I’m going to try to do better than last game.”
With Ibaka and Reggie Jackson in the starting lineup the Thunder found their offense and played with a better defensive energy, the rotations that had been slow to nonexistent in the first two games were sharp in Game 3.
This felt a lot like Game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals, when the Spurs won the first two games and the Thunder swept the next four.
The real question now is how the Spurs respond — they became sloppy in the face of the pressure, with Tony Parker in particular struggling (especially when Westbrook was guarding him). If the Spurs find their form again, Game 4 is going to be very interesting.
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