With a black sleeve around his left calf, Serge Ibaka lightly limped over to speak with the media Saturday afternoon.
The towering power forward has somehow gone from being ruled out for the postseason to having a chance to play in Game 3 on Sunday.
“When the gym doctor told me I’m going to be out for the rest of the Playoffs, I wasn’t believing it because I believe in God,” Ibaka said. “I know I’m here for a reason, and so I want to just keep pushing, keep putting ice, do what I can do, what I can control.”
Ibaka said he has not practiced or even run yet, but confirmed he remains day-to-day with his calf strain.
“Right now I’m waiting for the team doctor to confirm, and also it’s depending on whether I will go tomorrow, day by day, and see,” he said. “I’m waiting what the doctor going to tell me and how my body going to feel. So day by day, let’s see how I’m going to wake up tomorrow.”
One interesting thing Ibaka said, though, was that he wasn’t as much concerned with the risk of re-injury or a full tear, as much as it’s about pain tolerance.
“I’m going to say pain. Pain. The most important is pain,” he said. “It’s 100 percent going to hurt. For sure if the doctor gives me the okay and I feel better tomorrow, I will be 100 percent with the pain for sure, but like I said, I’m going to do whatever it takes to help my team.
“You know, I’m the type of guy, I’ve been through a lot when I was young,” he said. “Since I’ve come here, nothing is for me, so I know it’s going to be tough. I understand it’s going to be tough, but I will get my mind ready, whatever, like I said, the doctor give me the okay, I’ll be ready to go.”
Basically, it comes down to this: If the Thunder’s physicians will give him clearance, he’s playing, no matter how much pain he’s in. But again: He hasn’t practiced yet. He hasn’t even run yet. The game is tomorrow, so Ibaka has a lot of ground to make up to be available for Game 3. Sam Presti said on Friday that Ibaka would need to go through contact drills and some game-like simulations to be able to play, something that didn’t happen today. However, Scott Brooks said the team didn’t actually have a very intensive practice on Saturday, doing mostly shooting and game preparation things.
For now I’ve just been doing some spot shooting because I’ve got a bruise in my calf right now, so I been doing some spot shooting and trying to see, like I said, day by day,” Ibaka said. “Tomorrow morning I’m going to try to do a little extra to see what is going on.”
Besides Ibaka, a lot of the focus has been about the Thunder’s starting five, something Brooks indicated he’s considering changing. And he may have an easy answer for it if things go well for Ibaka on Sunday morning.