Serge Ibaka cleared to play for Thunder in Game 3, will start

Ronald Martinez

Serge Ibaka will return to the Thunder's lineup earlier than expected.

Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka has officially been cleared to play Sunday in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Ibaka will not only play in Game 3, but will be in the starting lineup, according to J.A. Adande of ESPN.

Ibaka went through tests during the team's days off between Games 2 and 3 and Oklahoma City softened its stance from what was initially announced as a season-ending injury down to a day-to-day injury.

The Thunder have struggled without Ibaka, falling behind 0-2 to the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs took control of the series, winning the first two games in San Antonio. Ibaka has been out with a calf injury he suffered during the team's Game 6 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ibaka has averaged 12.2 points per game on 61 percent shooting through the playoffs and is a huge asset for the team's defense. The Thunder are shooting 44  percent as a team against the Spurs while allowing them to shoot 53 percent from the field. San Antonio is averaging 60 points in the paint per game as well, an area Ibaka will shore up for Oklahoma City.

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