Thunder 111, Spurs 105
Ibaka’s stat-line: 14 points, nine rebounds, five blocks
Takeaways: Without an injured Westbrook, Jackson continued his dominance of San Antonio, this time in the starting lineup. He had 27 points, eight assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes, playing maybe his most complete NBA game ever. Jackson’s a streaky player, dominating in one batch of games and nonexistent the next. So you’re never exactly sure which guy will show up. But against the Spurs, he’ll have the roaming space to find his rhythm. They have nobody to stay in front of him, particularly on the second unit. And Jackson’s ability to consistently exploit that could be the X-factor in this series.
Thunder 106, Spurs 94
Ibaka’s stat-line: 11 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks
Takeaways: Of the four games, this was Ibaka’s worst stat-line. But for those that remember, it may have been the greatest example of the defensive impact OKC will miss. In breaking the Spurs’ 19-game win streak, the Thunder slowed an offense that had been humming. And a ton of that was because of Ibaka’s looming presence. Throughout the night, he erased mistakes and deterred San Antonio penetrators, forcing kickouts, altering layups and causing a couple uncharacteristic shot clock violations. The Thunder’s perimeter athleticism and length can be kryptonite for a Spurs offense so adept at finding open jumpers. But that athleticism and length is neutralized a bit when it doesn’t have its dynamic goalkeeper backing it up.