Author: Kurt Helin

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five

Thunder’s Serge Ibaka out 4-6 weeks after surgery, could miss start of playoffs


In a season racked by injuries in Oklahoma City, this latest one could severely damage their playoff chances — if they even make it.

Serge Ibaka’s knee surgery on Tuesday went well, according to the team, and he will be out 4-6 weeks. That would have him back right as the playoffs start at the earliest (April 19), or he could miss the start of the first round series (should the Thunder hold on to the eight seed).

“After monitoring the soreness in Serge’s knee and having taken several intermediate steps to assess and manage the discomfort, it was determined that the necessary next step in the evaluation was to see a specialist to discuss options to help alleviate the soreness and swelling he had been experiencing,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti in a statement. “During the consultation with Dr. David Altchek, his recommendation, in agreement with Thunder medical personnel, Serge and his representatives, was for Serge to have arthroscopic surgery to remedy the problematic area.”

Long term there is no cause for concern,  is pretty common and Ibaka should bounce back to his old self. The only question is will he do it in time to help the Thunder.

Oklahoma City has already beeen trying to get by without Kevin Durant (who is due back from a sore foot in the next week or so) but have gone 8-5 in their last 13 and been able to get and hold on to the eighth seed in the West, half a game up on New Orleans (and they are tied in the loss column as of Tuesday).

They have done that with a heaping dose of Russell Westbrook, who has injected himself into the MVP conversation with his play. The Thunder also have gotten a boost from Enes Kanter, picked up at the trade deadline from Utah and scoring 19.8 points a game in his last five.

However, coach Scott Brooks — clearly concerned about Kanter at the defensive end — has almost always paired the young big with Ibaka. The idea was that the shot-blocking Ibaka could cover up any mistakes. Now that duty will fall to Steven Adams, who is not a bad defender but his far from a high-flying shot blocker.

Oklahoma City has its work cut out to finish ahead of Anthony Davis and New Orleans for that final playoff spot (the Pelicans are not just going to roll over). If they do, Golden State will be waiting for them and without Ibaka for even a few games that could be a real problem for OKC.

Warriors’ Klay Thompson out at least a week with injured ankle

New York Knicks v Golden State Warriors

Klay Thompson raised eyebrows when, after the Warriors hung on for a sloppy win at home against the Lakers, he was seen limping out of Oracle Arena. People wondered if he could play Wednesday in a big rematch against Atlanta.

He’s going to be out longer than that.

Steve Kerr said at least a week, reports Monte Poole of

The Warriors confirmed this.

This is the only good option. The Warriors are going to be the top seed in the West — they have a 6.5 game cushion with 16 games to play — but they need to be right come the playoffs. Especially considering they could well face Oklahoma City in the first round. Then, consider this stat via ESPN: When Golden State has their regular starting five they are 42-5 this season, change even one player and that falls to 11-8.

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With Thompson out, expect Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa, and Justin Holiday to get more run.

Timberwolves’ coach Flip Saunders to miss Wednesday game for personal reasons

Portland Trail Blazers v Minnesota Timberwolves

There certainly are legitimate reasons for an NBA coach to need to miss a game — or a string of games — during the regular season. Ill family members are one of them.

That appears to be the situation with Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, who will not be on the bench in Toronto Wednesday when the Timberwolves take on the Raptors, the team announced Tuesday.

There is a good reason for missing the game, reports Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press.

It is possible this could last more than one game. Our thoughts are with Saunders and his family.