The story of the Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, at least to this point, has been about dominance. The story going into a crucial game three is just how much OKC can get out of big man Serge Ibaka – if anything.
The Thunder have sorely missed Ibaka’s presence in the paint, both as a timely producer of steady jumpers, as well as a shot-altering and shot-blocking headache. Usually a sizeable thorn in the opposition’s side, the mere presence of Ibaka was supposed to give Oklahoma City that slim edge they needed to find a way to sneak past the Spurs and get to their second NBA Finals in three years.
Without him, however, the worst has come to life, as the Thunder can’t control the paint, which has in turn led to two disastrous outings.
It’s not all about not having Ibaka, though, as San Antonio has been more than on top of it’s game, while their depth is clearly better than the Thunder’s.
There is also the coaching debate, as the predictable Scott Brooks is light years behind the great Gregg Popovich and everyone knows it. Even worse, it’s painfully visible in this series.
With all that being said, Ibaka just might suit up for a heroic showing in game three and the Thunder still have a dynamic duo that can go off at a moment’s notice in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Despite the odds being against the Thunder and their first two games being trainwrecks, it’s still hard to see them going down 3-0 in such a huge series with their backs against the wall. They’re at home and could get an emotional lift from Ibaka, so let’s give them a shot to keep this series alive.
Pick: Thunder 105, Spurs 99