Thunder can't bank on Ibaka

OKC won the last game in the series with a formula that can't continue

Updated: June 4, 2012, 12:35 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
Serge IbakaMatthew Emmonsj/US PresswireThere's no reason to think Serge Ibaka can repeat his 11-for-11 shooting night in Game 4.

Everyone is still abuzz over Serge Ibaka's 11-for-11 performance that helped the Oklahoma City Thunder even the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs. And they should be; he came within one shot of tying the NBA playoff record for most attempts in a perfect shooting night. Ibaka's shot chart is something to behold. He hit all five of his shots at the basket, all three from midrange and all three on long 2s.

Ibaka's partner in OKC's frontcourt, Kendrick Perkins, hit seven of nine from the floor, with all but one of his field goals coming on short jump hooks at the rim. Nick Collison came off the bench to hit four of five. Add it all up, and that's an amazing 22 of 25 from the floor for the Thunder big men. Yet there is something important to keep in mind here: Oklahoma City still won that game by just six points. If not for Kevin Durant's virtuoso performance down the stretch, the Spurs would be headed into tonight's Game 5 with a chance to close out the series.

The Thunder has not discovered a new magic pill to beat the Spurs. One thing we've harped on time and again during the postseason is that one game in a series has nothing to do with the one that came before it; nor will it have anything to do with the one that comes next. Rajon Rondo scored 44 points in Game 3 against the Heat. He had 15 in Game 4. Every game presents its own set of unique circumstances that are dependent upon strategic adjustments made by the opposing coaches, the collective energy of the players and the vagaries of who turns out to have hot or cold shooting nights.


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