Oklahoma City Thunder: The struggle continues without Serge Ibaka

Home teams are expected to win at home, and that is just what the San Antonio Spurs have done in their first two home games against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Playoffs. Tonight, along with the loss two days ago, is a sign of things to come for the Thunder: the Spurs will not go down easy. These two losses to the Spurs also confirm what the Thunder already knows: the Spurs are a very talented team. If the Thunder thought they would walk in to the AT&T Center and surprise the Spurs, they were wrong.

Usually, you can’t learn much from one game in the playoffs. Random things can happen. The home team can lose or beat their opponent by twenty points, but you still can’t make a true assessment of how a series will play out. But, after two games you can start to get a sense of how teams match up against each other and what direction the series will go in.

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After two games between the Spurs and Thunder, the direction the series is heading doesn’t look positive for the Thunder. The Spurs are beating in every facet of the game. The young, athletic Thunder can’t seem to keep up with the high-octane offense of the Spurs in this series, at least while in San Antonio. The Thunder might play better at home, but things don’t look promising after two blowout road losses in three days. And the loss of Serge Ibaka for the rest of the playoffs only makes the Thunder’s interior defense weaker, something Tim Duncan is exploiting.

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Last year, the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook for their final playoff series. This year, they are without their best defensive big-man, Ibaka. Without Ibaka, the Thunder have no one to match up against veteran power forward Duncan. What the Thunder are left with is basically a two-man show, at least on offense. In game one, Nick Collison, Ibaka’s replacement, went 0-3 from the field. Another starter, Thabo Sefolosha, went 0-4 from the field. And with Kendrick Perkins, an offensive dunce, also starting, the Thunder only have two starters who can actually score the ball with efficiency.

After two big losses in a row in the playoffs it seems like doomsday is on the horizon, but with the Thunder you can never count them out. Just two years ago this Thunder team were in this same situation, down 0-2 heading back to their home court. They went on to win the next four games and advance to the Finals where they would lose to the Miami Heat.

It looks bad losing like the Thunder have these last two games, but never count them out. They have overcome it before, and may very well do it again.