When announcing Serge Ibaka would miss the rest of the playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder said:
Ibaka is expected to miss the remainder of the 2014 postseason.
Expected by whom?
Not the Spurs.
“I don’t really believe it,” said point guard Tony Parker, who has been cleared to play in the opener after straining his left hamstring in the second round. “I’ll believe when I see tomorrow he is not on the court. It’s hard to believe. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Said Kawhi Leonard, “We’re still not sure if he’s going to play or not, but it doesn’t matter. The Thunder are still a very good team.”
I suppose this probably just a healthy amount of skepticism from a team looking to stay sharp.
Or the Spurs sit among the segment of fans who believe everything is a conspiracy. The refs are out to get San Antonio, too.
Ibaka returning wouldn’t be unprecedented. David Lee was supposed to miss all of last year’s playoffs before he returned for some inspirational minutes.
But count me among the believers. Ibaka is out, and the series will be different for it. The Spurs probably have the edge now – even if they’re trying to avoid thinking that way.