NORMAN — It didn’t look too serious when Serge Ibaka left the court. The Oklahoma City forward had a limp and didn’t return to Game 6 of the conference semifinals, but the concern level was low.
Less than 24 hours later, the Thunder were delivered the full impact of the news that Ibaka would miss the rest of the postseason with a Grade 2 strain in his left calf.
“I just want to express our disappointment for Serge, who, as we all know, is an elite competitor and someone that has proven to be a tremendous teammate,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a conference call. “He was playing great basketball throughout the season. He’s had a huge impact on our season to date.”
Presti said this type of injury is not a concern for Ibaka’s longterm prognosis. But it does take time to heal properly.
“The severity of the injury is not longterm concerning,” Presti said. “But the timing of when it happened is the unfortunate part to it. It will be unlikely that he would return if we were fortunate to make it past this next series, which we know is going to be a challenge for us.”
This is the second consecutive postseason the Thunder have had to deal with a major season-ending injury in the postseason. Russell Westbrook went down with a torn ACL in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs against the Houston Rockets. Oklahoma City went on to win the series and Presti expects the same type of competitiveness without Ibaka.
“For us, we have, as an organization, been in some situations in the past and how we responded to those has always been the measure of the team we’ve had in Oklahoma City,” Presti said. “Our expectation going forward is we’ll respond admirably. We all know we’ll have to adapt, we’ll have to adjust.”