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OKC Thunder: Serge Ibaka's season is likely over due to calf injury

The Thunder on Friday evening announced that its starting power forward is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason with a left calf injury. He sustained the injury midway through the third quarter of Thursday night’s series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 16, 2014

This time, there is no scapegoat.

There is no one person or one play to which all of Oklahoma can pin the blame for the Thunder’s latest postseason misfortune.

This time, there is no boneheaded action, only what appears to be bad luck.

Serge Ibaka’s season, in all likelihood, has come to an end.

The Thunder on Friday evening announced that its starting power forward is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason with a left calf injury. He sustained the injury midway through the third quarter of Thursday night’s series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles.

The timing couldn’t be worse, as the Thunder is two days from opening the Western Conference Finals at San Antonio. A once-promising season now appears to be in peril because of nothing more than a freak accident.

“It’s not something that we have great clarity on as to a specific event or acute incident,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said when asked the source of Ibaka’s injury. “We just know that obviously it’s not something that Serge was able to play through. And we all know him, the last thing he wants to do is miss any time on the floor. But this is one that needed to be looked at pretty closely.”

It’s the second straight postseason that the Thunder has had a starter suffer a season-ending injury. Last year, point guard Russell Westbrook sustained a torn lateral meniscus in the first round, an injury that derailed the Thunder’s title hopes.

In that instance, Houston guard Patrick Beverley crashed into Westbrook’s knee after he had already motioned for a timeout. It was a play that most viewed as unnecessary at best and downright dirty at worst.

But there is no explanation, or face for which Thunder fans can aim their collective frustration, for Ibaka’s injury.

The only similarity is that both could be crippling blows to the Thunder’s championship hopes.

Ibaka’s injury has been diagnosed as a Grade 2 strain, according to Presti. The injured region of the calf is called the plantaris, or the upper portion of a person’s calf, just behind the knee.

“The recovery process is lengthy because the re-injury rate is so extraordinarily high,” Presti said. “Healing is one aspect, but strengthening is an entirely different one. And I think it’s important to stress here that the severity of the injury is not long-term concerning. But the timing of when it occurred, given where we are in the season and how deep we’ve played, that’s an unfortunate part to this.”

With its wording in announcing the injury, the Thunder appeared to leave a glimmer of hope that Ibaka might be able to return this postseason. The team said Ibaka “is expected to miss the remainder of the 2014 postseason.” Presti, though, essentially put an end to such thoughts.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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