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Two games into the Western Conference Finals and Oklahoma City Thunder have just two points from their starting power forward position normally occupied by Serge Ibaka.
While Nick Collison has been a serviceable backup for years, he provides no paint and rim protection on defense, and his offence seems to be on the side of a milk carton - missing. Projected as a third or fourth 'Big' off the bench to counter opponents second team, Collison has been thrust into an un-winnable position, guarding future hall-of-famer Tim Duncan with the calf injury to Serge Ibaka.
The loss of Ibaka, who is the heart and soul of OKC's interior defense, has really exposed the inadequacies on their roster and emphasized Serge's value to the team. Not only does his almost three blocks per game and mobility slow down 'Timmy', but he negates the penetration from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli who seem to attack the basket like bees on honey.
When General Manager Sam Presti made the tough decision two years ago to resign Ibaka over a long-term deal for Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden, people went ballistic thinking that Harden was more instrumental to the team. Yet, as great as Harden is offensively, his impact on the game is negligible with Durant and Westbrook since there is only one basketball to share.
Serge's presence on the court allows Durant and Westbrook to gamble on defense knowing that Ibaka is there to clean up their mistakes, and he keeps the potential double-team honest by being a reliable spot up shooter who can also catch and finish with authority near the paint.
Moving the MVP to power forward has backfired as "The Big Fundamental" has repeatedly taken KD to school on the block which has also worn him down from his usual offensive output.
Durant, who hasn't played power forward since Montrose Christian Academy, cannot defend the 37-year-old Duncan in the post. So KD and everyone else in Oklahoma are prayerful that Ibaka consulted with former Baltimore Raven, Ray Lewis, on how to make a rapid return from injury because the Thunder are "Nothing without a power Serge"