The Thunder Got Back Serge Ibaka, May Have Gotten Back Into This SeriesBilly Haisley5/26/14 5:33pmFiled to: highlight reeloklahoma city thundersan antonio spurs2014 nba playoffsserge ibaka114EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkNow this is more like it. When the Thunder announced they'd lost Serge Ibaka for the remainder of the playoffs to a calf injury, it seemed like we'd all miss out on another classic clash of age vs. youth, savvy vs. athleticism, creative offense vs. "dribble around, then someone shoot!" Ibaka's return performance in last night's Thunder victory means we just might have a series on our hands.AdvertisementIbaka is such a crucial component of what the Thunder do because of how he affects the game offensively and defensively. While Scott Brooks isn't much for actual offensive play-calling, the Thunder's scoring philosophy is reliant on spacing.KD and Russ are deadly on the drive and with the midrange jumper, but they need the threat of both for it all to work. Without Ibaka's steady 17-foot jumper punishing any Spurs bigs who camp out near the lane, the interior openings Durant and Westbrook need to wedge themselves through disappear. Instead, OKC's two stars have to crash into the Spurs' front court like waves against a cliff or rely on jump shots, while defenders crowd all up in their grill, confident that the help defense will take care of any blow-bys. It looks awesome when this triage-offense works, but it's not a recipe for sustained success.