Brooks also complimented Ibaka for keeping his cool in the face of physical play and other forms of gamesmanship that’s going on in this series.
“He’s playing against a very good player, an MVP-type player in Blake Griffin,” Brooks said. “But I think he’s doing a good job of really keeping his composure and not getting involved in all the other things that that can entail.”
Ibaka got baited into a technical foul once in Game 1 after kicking his foot away from Griffin’s legs to free himself. Aside from that, though, Ibaka has played through mind games.
“When I play against him, I don’t really worry what he do or whatever,” Ibaka said. “I just try to do what I can do. I just try to play my game and stay focused. Sometimes I’m going to get foul trouble. Sometimes, you never know. All I can control is what I can do.”
As impressive as anything else has been Ibaka’s ability to be resourceful offensively. He’s averaging 15.3 points in the series on an eye-popping 72.4 percent shooting. He’s done it not by being a focal point of the offense but by making the most of opportunities when the ball is swung his direction, as well as creating a few more scoring chances for himself through sheer hustle.
When the Clippers pulled within one with less than five minutes to play Friday, Ibaka scored on back-to-back possessions by rolling to the basket and finishing a feed from Westbrook and rebounding a missed fadeaway by Durant and converting a putback dunk.
“His mindset has been great,” said Thunder center Kendrick Perkins. “We just need him to keep going.”