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OKC Thunder: Expect Serge Ibaka to play normal minutes Tuesday night

Coach Scott Brooks questions himself on why he didn't use one of the best defensive players in the NBA during the fourth quarter.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: May 28, 2012
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Ibaka is playing slightly more minutes in the postseason (27.6 per game) than he did during the regular season (27.2), but he played just 21:41 in Game 1, finishing with five points, seven rebounds, two blocks, one steal and one assist.

Game 2 is Tuesday at 8 p.m. at AT&T Center.

“Going into the next game, I see him playing his normal minutes,” Brooks said.

Of course, there's no guarantee OKC would have won the game even with Ibaka on the court. There's a reason the Spurs are favored to win this year's NBA title, having won 19 straight, including 9-0 in the playoffs, and 30 of their 32 games.

“When you play against the Spurs,” Brooks said, “they have so many opportunities to play so many different lineups that you have to make decisions. Like any decision, if it doesn't work, you always like the other one better.”

Asked if he thought the rest of the WCF might feature small ball more frequently than he initially envisioned, Brooks said: “No. I think last night was, but I don't see that as the series move forward.”

If Ibaka was angry about Brooks' decision, he did a wonderful job hiding that emotion before Monday morning's light practice.

“It wasn't the first time, you know,” Ibaka said with a French accent and a shrug. “It was coach's decision.”

Did Ibaka look out at the court in the fourth quarter and envision himself protecting the middle?

“It's not really like that,” Ibaka said. “They (the Spurs) just played really good. It doesn't matter if it's me or Perk on the court, the way they were playing last night was just good, you know. We need to do a better job of stopping ball before ball get in the paint.”


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