By Randy Renner
It wasn’t quite the best news Thunder fans could get on Memorial Day, that probably would have been power forward Serge Ibaka saying he actually felt better after his first game back from what was thought to have been a season ending but they will happily settle for what he did say.
“I’m not feeling worse,” Ibaka told a throng of reporters at Monday’s Thunder practice.
Fans, coaches and Ibaka’s teammates and probably the Spurs too, had to wonder how well he would recover from playing almost 30 minutes in Game 3.
Some may have been wondering if the strain and exertion would be too much for his still recovering left calf.
“No pain,” he said, “no pain. No worse actually I can say same as yesterday but no worse, that’s good news.”
Ibaka had been determined to get back on the floor since hearing team doctors tell him he was finished for the rest of the playoffs. He was so distraught at the prognosis he cried. Cried because he was being told he would not be able to help his teammates win the most important games of the season.
Of course Ibaka proved the doctors wrong, returning for Game 3 and scoring 15 points, grabbing seven rebounds, blocking four shots and basically making life miserable for anyone wearing silver and black.
Was he surprised by how fast he was able to get back on the floor and how well he played?
“No surprise because like I said, people may think I'm crazy or I'm funny, and I've said that before, I believe in God,” Ibaka said, “With God, anything is possible. To me it's no surprise because I'm a son of God.”
There was no official announcement today but it certainly appears safe to assume Ibaka will again be patrolling the pain, closing down the lane and hitting open jumpers on Tuesday night, just like he did on Sunday.
The one exception being Ibaka wants to be even better.
“One thing I know, I expect to do a better job,” he said. “It was kind of hard a little bit with my feet. I was using more my right foot than left foot. 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. Tomorrow I'm going to try to do better than last game.”
The Thunder would probably settle merely for a repeat performance.