Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka finally put his stamp
on the NBA Finals but not with his vaunted shot-blocking ability.
The Thunder power forward stuck his foot in his mouth on Monday by questioning
LeBron James' defensive acumen, a day after the Miami superstar did a number
on his OKC counterpart, Kevin Durant, in the fourth quarter of a 91-85 Game 3
"LeBron is not a good defender," Ibaka, the runner-up in the NBA's Defensive
Player of the Year voting, told reporters. "He can play defense for two to
three minutes but not 48 minutes. LeBron can't play (Kevin Durant) one-on-
Some of that is actually factually correct.
James, the leading vote-getter for the NBA's all-defensive team, can't play
Durant one-on-one for an entire game and shut the three-time scoring champion
down -- no one can.
A cross between George Gervin and current Miami assistant Bob McAdoo, the
lengthy Durant is virtually unstoppable when the jumper is falling and he has
his mid-range game going.
That said, it certainly was an interesting time for Ibaka to call out anyone's
defense. The Heat lived in the restricted area during their Game 3 win
thanks in large part to Ibaka's failures.
"Iblocka" was late on his rotations time and time again, especially early in
the contest when the Heat were able to deposit 10 dunks or lay-ups in the
In fact Miami couldn't buy a jump shot all night in Game 3, particularly in
the first half when the Heat were 15-for-22 in tight and a dismal 3-for-22
from outside. Overall, Miami scored an almost mind-numbing 77 of its 91 points
from inside the paint or the free throw line.
Despite that OKC coach Scott Brooks lauded center Kendrick Perkins.
"I thought Perk had probably his best game of the series," Brooks said. "He
was active, he was defending, I thought he did a great job. He was rebounding
offensively and defensively and he was really plugging the paint."
On the other hand there was nary a mention of Ibaka from Brooks.
You do the math.
Ibaka can certainly be a dominant presence in the middle when swatting shots
but too often he gets caught up in the trash, losing his primary
responsibility to chase a drive to the hoop. That leaves Chris Bosh or another
Heat cutter with a bunny or an easy offensive rebound.
James, on the other hand, is an elite perimeter defender. Similar to Ibaka,
he's adept at the highlight reel plays like chasedown blocks but he's also a
fundamentally sound player, one that uses positioning and hand movement to
make things more difficult for most.
With Durant, James was able to use his prodigious strength late in Game 3 to
push K.D. off his favorite spots. Perhaps, more importantly, he can check the
superstar without drawing obvious fouls, something Durant conversely hasn't
figured out to this point.
At the end of the day, however, whether Ibaka is right or wrong about James is
He's a role player who hasn't been performing his role and it's simply not his
place to give the opposition any bulletin board material.
The Sports Network