Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka was expected to miss the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs with a calf injury, but he might be nearing a stunning return to the lineup.
The 24-year-old could play in Game 3 and is considered day to day, the team announced Friday.
“The abundance of blood and therefore swelling in Serge’s calf has reduced substantially and unexpectedly, allowing a level of movement and stability not thought possible after the initial diagnosis,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a team-issued statement. “Based on both imaging and physical exam, the considerable swelling in the calf indicated the likelihood of a certain degree of injury, and that established the original time frame for recovery.”
“At present, Serge has yet to complete a full basketball workout, but is walking and doing light basketball drills. With this new information, and in an effort to keep his status current, we are now listing him as day to day with the understanding that there is a possibility for him to play in this series.”
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski added further details via Twitter:
OKC ran Ibaka through battery of tests on Thursday and his calf responded well. Still soreness but a Sunday Game 3 return is possible.—
Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 23, 2014
OKC is down 2-0 after losing both games in San Antonio, and Ibaka’s absence has hurt the team in several areas, specifically rebounding, low-post defense and athleticism. Tim Duncan has dominated the Thunder frontcourt without Ibaka’s shot-blocking presence. Ibaka was averaging 12.2 points and 7.3 rebounds through two playoff rounds.
Luckily for the Thunder, they were down 2-0 to the Spurs to start the 2012 conference finals, so this isn’t an unfamiliar position for them. Game 3 is Sunday in Oklahoma City.