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Thunder’s Serge Ibaka Eager To Return

Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka said Saturday while he has not practiced or run yet, he would be willing to play through pain to return to the floor this postseason.

“Right now I’m waiting for the team doctor to confirm, and also it’s depending on whether I will go tomorrow, day by day, and see,” Ibaka said. “It’s 100 percent going to hurt. For sure if the doctor gives me the OK and I feel better tomorrow, I will be 100 percent with the pain for sure, but like I said, I’m going to do whatever it takes to help my team.”

Ibaka, who was initially expected to miss the remainder of the postseason because of a left calf strain suffered in Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers on May 15, had his status unexpectedly upgraded to day to day on Friday.

Ibaka said the injury is more about the ability to play through pain rather than a risk of additional injury.

“I’m going to say pain,” Ibaka said. “Pain. The most important is pain.

“You know, I’m the type of guy, I’ve been through a lot when I was young,” Ibaka said. “Since I’ve come here, nothing is for me, so I know it’s going to be tough. I understand it’s going to be tough, but I will get my mind ready, whatever, like I said, the doctor give me the OK, I’ll be ready to go.”

On Friday, Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Ibaka could not be ruled out for Game 3 on Sunday, though he stressed that the power forward needed to first go through a practice and contact drills. Ibaka said all he did on Saturday was some light spot shooting.

“For now I’ve just been doing some spot [shooting] because I’ve got a bruise in my calf right now, so I been doing some spot [shooting] and trying to see, like I said, day by day,” Ibaka said. “Tomorrow morning I’m going to try to do a little extra to see what is going on.”

Asked what percentage he would need to be at to be able to play, Ibaka said, “Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes, my teammates need for me and somebody to let me go, whatever it takes, I will be there for my teammates.”

While Ibaka has been upgraded, Kevin Durant said the team is planning as if Ibaka still won’t be available.

“I don’t know what his status is,” Durant said. “I’ve heard some stuff, but I don’t know. But we’re preparing like he’s not playing because that’s what he said before we started the series.”

The Thunder trail the Spurs 2-0 in the Western Conference finals, losing the first two games by a combined 52 points. The Spurs have averaged 60 points in the paint in the opening two games and have shot 78 percent inside the restricted area while Ibaka, who has led the league in total blocks for four seasons running, sat and watched.

“One thing I’m going to say … I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying my team lost two games because I was out,” Ibaka said. “It’s not true. It’s not true. I believe in my guys. I believe in my teammates, that they can do better, with me or without me. It’s not an excuse because Serge Ibaka was not there. It’s just that San Antonio the first two games, they played better basketball. We need to give them a lot of credit.”

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