Oklahoma City Thunder defensive standout Serge Ibaka might not be lost for the playoffs after all.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti said Friday that Ibaka’s injured left calf is showing “a level of movement and stability not thought possible.”
As a result, Ibaka is now considered day to day for the Thunder, which has missed him badly as San Antonio has raced to a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. Game 3 is Sunday in Oklahoma City.
“I don’t think any of us thought we’d be standing here talking about this,” Presti said.
Well, maybe no one with the Thunder expected it. The Spurs certainly did.
“We knew he would be back, and that’s good,” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. “Nobody would wish that on anybody to miss a playoff. We’ve had guys miss playoffs before. It’s obviously a downer. If he gets back in — and I’m sure he will, as I’ve said from the beginning — I think it’s great.”
Ibaka, injured in the series-clinching Game 6 win against the Clippers, is averaging 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the playoffs while shooting 62% from the field. He led the league in blocked shots during the season.
Presti did not say if Ibaka would be available for Game 3, just that he could not be ruled out. Presti said he felt it best to be forthcoming about the change in the situation.
“It would be convenient to not provide the information, and if he were ever healthy enough to play in a game, to release that an hour before the game,” he said. “But in this case, we don’t think that was the way to handle it, because previously we had deemed him out. And we can’t deem him out.”
George cleared to play
Indiana’s Paul George will play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, which comes as no surprise to the Miami Heat.
“Why wouldn’t he?” Heat star LeBron James asked.
The Pacers announced Friday night that George has been cleared “to return to normal basketball activity,” a decision made three days after he was concussed in Game 2.
So that settled one lineup issue for the series, which is tied, 1-1. The Heat now has a lineup decision to make.
Greg Oden — whose last postseason appearance was April 30, 2009 — may be inserted into the Heat rotation after showing Miami’s coaches in recent days that back issues that slowed him down for weeks may finally be a thing of the past. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra suggested that Oden “could” get some minutes, which would almost certainly come against Indiana center Roy Hibbert.
“If coach needs me, I’m ready to play,” Oden said. “I’m definitely ready whenever he needs me.”
Henderson has surgery
Charlotte Hornets guard Gerald Henderson has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist to remove scar tissue.
Henderson’s wrist will be immobilized for about two weeks before he begins rehabilitation. He averaged 14 points, four rebounds and 2.6 assists in 32 minutes a game in 77 starts for Charlotte last season.