The Oklahoma City Thunder were dealt a devastating blow Friday when word broke that forward Serge Ibaka is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason with a calf injury, suffered in OKC’s Game 6 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Luckily for the Thunder, they can count in their corner a motivator of men who—like Julius Caesar, George Patton and Richard Simmons before him—boasts a God-given gift for summoning victory’s spark.
Kendrick Perkins: "One thing about us, we like being counted out. Then after Game 1, we like hearing what ya’ll say next."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 17, 2014
Kendrick Perkins—or, as he’s known throughout the Mongol Empire, Kendri Khan.
Perkins is referring, of course, to OKC’s impending Western Conference Finals showdown with the red-hot San Antonio Spurs, set to begin Monday.
Obviously, we get what Perkins is after here. His team just lost one of its key cogs and—particularly given last year’s playoff struggles sans an injured Russell Westbrook—is no doubt in need of some extra psychological fodder.
At the same time: Huh? Have we really made a cottage industry of “counting the Thunder out?”
The more interesting tweet tidbit here, however, lies in the “Then, after Game 1” bit.
First off, Mr. Perkins, you guys lost Game 1 in the Clippers series.
Second, are the Spurs really the team you want to be calling out after what they did to the Portland Trail Blazers in the West...
...What’s that? The Thunder swept the Spurs in their four regular-season meetings this year? Oh.
What’s that? Kendrick Perkins is now doubling as a Scott Brooks assistant?
Kendrick Perkins: "We watched the Dallas series. Any time Dallas made them move, ran their stuff with speed, (the Spurs) struggled."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 17, 2014
They’ll just be doing without, you know, one of their speediest, most athletic guys.
Presumably, Perkins is aware of what he’s implying in this tweet, namely that OKC going “speedy”—read: small—will most likely mean Perk himself being bolted to the bench.
Clearly, Brooks has some rotational decisions to make, as Bleacher Report’s Stephen Babb outlined in his recent piece on the loss of Ibaka:
It’s worth noting that OKC could also look to employ some variant of “small-ball” more often in an attempt to give extra minutes to reserves Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson. If the Thunder are going to struggle to defend San Antonio, the real back-up plan may just be trying to run them out of the building.
Besides, Butler and Jackson are almost certainly the best options on Brooks’ bench. Finding them some more playing time may be preferable to over-relying on [Nick] Collison and [Steven] Adams.
Ibaka will be missed most on the defensive interior, where his uncannily quick help defense would’ve been by far the Thunder’s best antidote to Tony Parker’s paint-probing exploits.
At the same time, you can’t help but wonder whether the stage is being set for recent MVP recipient Kevin Durant taking his team’s bad fortune—familiar as it must be, by now—and using it to fuel OKC’s NBA Finals march.