As incredible as Russell Westbrook has been without both Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka for a majority of this NBA Season, the Oklahoma City Thunder is in desperate need of some good news. Unfortunately, none could be found and actually, things may have just gotten worse.
Initially, Ibaka believed that he would miss three to four weeks after the procedure on his right knee. But it seems the Ibaka will instead be out for four to six weeks, which would rule him out for the rest of the regular season. The power forward/center is scheduled to undergo a clean-out procedure in order to make a possible return in the NBA Playoffs.
This team is in a situation where they are missing Ibaka’s contributions and presence on the floor. On the offensive end, he is a big man who is able to score efficiently in the paint, grab a handful of offensive boards, make mid-ranged jumpers, and hit the occasional three. On the defensive end, Ibaka does a good job of contesting shooters, stepping up on defense, getting rebounds, and is known for his ability to block shots and return them to sender. In short, he is a solid offensive player and a defensive anchor. Forwards Ennis Canter, Nick Collison, Mitch McGary have seen extended minutes in Ibaka’s absence.
The Thunder is currently in a tight race with the New Orleans Pelicans for the last playoff spot. The Pelicans possess the head-to-head tiebreaker and now each of the final upcoming games becomes increasingly crucial for both teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that their prized big man is healthy, but without him for the rest of the season, they need to focus on winning the next few games and do whatever it takes to try to squeak into the postseason.
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