After being out for the playoffs with a calf injury a little over a week ago, Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka is likely to play in Game 3 Sunday night against the San Antonio Spurs. With his team down 2-0 in the Western Conference finals, Ibaka is hoping to provide a huge boost to a Thunder team which has looked completely overmatched on both ends of the floor.
Ibaka participated in shootaround Sunday and said he will make the decision on whether or not he plays in Game 3. Barring any setbacks between shootaround and the tip-off of Game 3, Ibaka is expected to be on the floor and defending the rim for the Thunder. From Royce Young of ESPN.com:
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka participated in shootaround Sunday and said, barring any setbacks, he will play against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
"I'm trying to put my mind ready and if I'm going to feel better later, I'm going to go," Ibaka said. "For now, we're going to see if I feel better, because normally when you do this kind of workout, sometimes you can have pain later.
"So I'm going to see how I feel later and then I'm going to decide."
A healthy Ibaka would obviously be a huge improvement on what the Thunder put on the floor and how they play against the Spurs. His impact on the game when these two teams have met over the past two seasons has been huge, and it's helped the Thunder dominate this match-up. He turned one of the best teams at finishing in the restricted area (third in the league) to one of the worst teams at finishing in the restricted area against the Thunder (26th in the NBA). His athleticism has been something the Spurs have struggled to solve inside.
The Thunder were hoping for a boost for Game 3 with their home crowd behind them and now the likely return of Ibaka should improve things further. They were down 0-2 in the 2012 Western Conference finals against the Spurs before they won the next four games and earned a berth into the NBA Finals.