With one lineup tweak, the return of Serge Ibaka completely changes the series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs, with results in plenty of jokes and memes about Derrick Rose still being injured and as always, the referees helping out Kevin Durant and co. when they were in dire need.
Sometimes people love to throw the refereeing factor just because they haven’t got anything substantial to say. However, in this game, the disparity in free throw shooting and the ease in which the Thunder got to the line, while being allowed to beat up on the Spurs quite often in the third quarter, were a bit hard to ignore.
Ibaka was the big story. Declared out of the playoffs (clearly a lie in hindsight) and back like nothing happened. He limped a few times during the game which might have been him faking it a-la Dwyane Wade, but overall he was huge on both ends of the floor, providing that mid-range shooting ability while making things very difficult in the paint for the Spurs, finishing with four blocks as well.
It also led to some Derrick Rose jokes as we mentioned. Rose has played only 49 regular season games in the last three seasons, and even though he went down with a MCL tear early in the season (After 10 games), Ibaka was back before him. Obviously, two completely different injuries, but Rose has been taking a lot of heat for the last couple of seasons for being fragile.