LA Clippers Head Coach Tyronn Lue stated on Tuesday that the team hopes Serge Ibaka will return to action before the postseason begins.
Ibaka has missed the last 29 straight games due to what the Clippers organization has described as “lower back tightness.”
He joined the team on their final road trip, which will consist of away games against the Charlotte Hornets, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Ibaka was seen in his warm-up gear on the sidelines during Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors (a shame he wasn’t in one of his swanky outfits, or as he calls them, “art”), but the team did not upgrade him to “doubtful” or “questionable” on their injury report prior to the game. (These labels are usually an indicator that a player is a game or two away from returning.)
Lue also confirmed during the pregame interview that, regardless of Ibaka’s status, Ivica Zubac will remain the starting center entering the postseason. Zubac has been solid as the starting five in Ibaka’s stead, averaging 10.5 points and 7.9 rebounds in 26.7 minutes through 29 starts. Even still, the Clippers will need Ibaka in some capacity if they hope to contend for a title. As good as DeMarcus Cousins has looked offensively as a backup center, his defensive immobility might make him unplayable against opposing playoff offenses.
The Clippers will likely give an update on Ibaka’s status prior to Thursday’s game against Charlotte, which tips off at 4 p.m.