The injuries keep piling up for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Serge Ibaka has been experiencing soreness in his knee since the end of February. He will miss four to six weeks after having an arthroscopic knee procedure.
All three members of the Thunder’s big three have missed time this season due to a surgery. Ibaka’s numbers are slightly down this season. He’s averaging 14.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 2.4 blkpg. He is taking more three pointers this season and has hit a career high 77 three pointers. Taking more three pointers has dropped Ibaka’s field goal percentage to a career low 47%.
The Thunder have the 9th toughest schedule remaining. Tonight they start a four game home-stand against teams like the Celtics, Hawks, Heat and Lakers. They then go on the road to face the Spurs, Jazz and Suns.
Every game counts for a Thunder team that is currently on the outside of the playoffs. The Thunder still have to face the Mavericks, Grizzlies, Rockets and Blazers. Russell Westbrook is on an amazing run but he can’t do it alone. In March he is averaging a triple-double, 33.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 10 apg but 6.7 turnovers.
It is unclear when Kevin Durant will return to the lineup. He has been out since February 21st after undergoing another procedure on his foot. It will be interesting to see if he will be on a minute’s restriction when he returns.
Without Ibaka the Thunder might press and allow Durant to return without a restriction. When he returned in December he was limited to 30 minutes per game for the first seven games before he played 35 minutes against the Kings. After returning from an ankle sprain in January he was not on a restriction.
Despite all the injuries the Thunder have been good on the defensive end. Even with Durant returning it will be hard for this team down the stretch without Ibaka’s defensive presence. Steven Adams is decent on the defensive end but he is no Ibaka.
The deadline trades have helped. The moves have given the Thunder some depth which they really needed. Enes Kanter is averaging 16 and 10 since the trade. He has started next to Adams recently and the two have played well together.
It will take time for Kevin Durant to get back into a groove. Westbrook will continue to give everything each game. If they manage to capture the 8th seed Ibaka could return for the start of their first round playoff series.