No one roots for injuries, and it's always a bummer when a player suffers one. As basketball fans we want the best product on the floor, and it's unfortunate that such an important player for the Thunder is now unable to compete.
Tony Parker has a grade 1 hamstring strain, but it's likely that he'll be ready to go on Monday night. He suffered a grade 2 hamstring sprain five games before last year's finals and started the first game. The injury to Tony is a little worrisome, but the injury to Ibaka is probably causing some serious worry among Thunder fans.
Serge Ibaka is the Thunder's third best player, their leading rebounder, and is their defensive anchor. He's also really their only shot blocker, as it takes the next six leading shot blockers on the team to equal his output. He's developed into quite a good player since he entered the league. He's been a dynamic shot blocker for some time now, but this season he really developed into an elite rim protector in full, making it tough on teams to get those high percentage looks at the basket. He's also become deadly from 10-16 feet if you give him space. After shooting 42% from 10-16 feet over his first three seasons, he has shot 52% from there over his last two seasons. The Spurs painfully learned that he could shoot it after watching him go 11-for-11 during Game Five of the 2012 WCF.
So he's good from the short midrange, but where he really helps the Thunder offensively is his ability to spread the floor by converting from 16-24 feet accurately and in volume. After going 189-for-461 (41%) over his first three seasons, he's gone 280-for-615 (45.5%) over the last two.
The numbers suggest that this could be a huge blow for the Thunder. According to ESPN Stats & Information, when Ibaka is on the floor the Thunder outscore their opponents by 5.7 points per 48 minutes. When he's off of the floor the Thunder are outscored by their opponents by 2.1 points per 48. That makes the Thunder 7.8 points per 48 minutes better with him than without. Their field goal percentage also takes a huge dive, with the Thunder shooting 46.8% from the floor with him, and 41.9% without him.
I asked my friend Travis, a big time Thunder fan, how he thought it would change the series. His response,
It's very disheartening, but I think it hurts them more if they play Miami than it does versus the Spurs. I think Nick Collison can match up with Duncan decently. But neither he nor Steven Adams can stretch the defense with their jump shot, and I have no faith in Scott Brooks scheming to their offensive strengths.
What say you Spurs fans, does this change your outlook on the series? And how so? What are your thoughts on Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins, and Steven Adams? Some Thunder fans have been calling for Collison to get more minutes, though I think they wanted them to come at the expense of Perkins. How much will the Thunder go small with Durant at the four, and how do the Spurs match-up if they do go small? How will Scott Brooks adjust? Let's get the conversation going.