The emergence of Serge Ibaka has helped the Toronto Raptors take a 3-2 series lead and put the team on the doorstep of the Eastern Conference Final.
The Toronto Raptors are happy to have Serge Ibaka back in true form. Just one week ago the 27-year old was struggling and on the verge of losing minutes. However, after strong performances in Games 4 and 5 Ibaka is emerging as the “X-Factor” to Toronto’s postseason success.
As previously mentioned, Ibaka’s play was not always a bright spot for the Raptors. He was a huge part of Toronto’s success against Orlando in round one. However, through the first three games of the second round, it seemed as though he had disappeared.
Once energetic and imposing Ibaka seemed hesitant in out of place. On the heels of a blowout loss in Game 3, Toronto needed someone to step up. As the old saying goes: “Once you’ve hit the bottom there’s nowhere else to go but up.”
Before breaking down how Ibaka has become Toronto’s “X-Factor” let’s take a look at his numbers through the first three games:
Game 1: 7 points, 3-9 field goals, six rebounds, -9 in 19 minutes
Game 2: 2 points, 1-5 field goals, one rebound, -12 in 13 minutes
Game 3: 4 points, 2-6 field goals, five rebounds, +4 in16 minutes
Now compare those to his numbers in games four and five:
Game 4: 12 points, 6-12 field goals, nine rebounds, -1 in 32 minutes
Game 5: 10 points, 4-7 field goals, two rebounds, +27 in 22 minutes (and three stitches to the head)
The increase in minutes has helped Ibaka find his game. We broke down three additional reasons as to why Serge’s surge has been key to Toronto’s postseason success.