"I'm not 100 percent back yet, but I'm getting better," Ibaka said. "I'm trying to get back in shape and it's going to take time."
Ibaka was intiailly given season-ending prognosis as a result of the injury, but came back for the final four games of the Thunder's six-game series loss to the Spurs. He is planning to play in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, and will presumably be fully healthy by then.
Ibaka led the lead in blocks for the fourth straight season, while averaging career-highs across the board. He put up 15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 81 games.
Ibaka, returning from a two-game absence, was clearly not at 100 percent but was still able to give his team a spark. He made a brief trip to the locker room in the third quarter and was taken out of the game with 3:16 left in the fourth once the game was well in hand.
Ibaka scored 15 points on 6 of 7 from the floor, and 4 of 4 from the charity stripe. He also chipped in with seven rebounds, four blocks and one steal in 30 minutes of a 106-97 victory. Ibaka is averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks over his last three playoff appearances.
Ibaka was initially ruled out for the remains of the season due to a left calf injury suffered in a series-clinching win over the Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals. However, after approximately 10 days of recovery, Ibaka was upgraded to day-to-day and then participated in morning shootaround. He will be in the starting lineup on Sunday.
"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."
Oklahoma City's championship hopes took a devastating hit on Friday, as the
Ibaka played 26 minutes before suffering a calf injury in a series-clinching win over the Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday. An MRI on Friday confirmed a Grade 2 strain. He averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 13 postseason games.
"The recovery process is lengthy because the re-injury risk is exceptionally high," general manager Sam Presti told reporters in a phone interview.
Ibaka played all but one of the team's 82 games this season, setting career highs in points per game (15.1), rebounds per game (8.8), assists per game (1.0) and PER (19.6).
Ibaka played 26 minutes before suffering a calf injury, and he was unable to return from it. He scored six points and had just two rebounds before leaving, as his teammates went on to close out the series with a 104-98 win in Game 6.
Fortunately, Ibaka has three days to get healthy before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, though an update on his status is not expected until Friday.
|10/30/2013 vs. UTA|
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