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Clippers' Serge Ibaka out for rest of playoffs after having back surgery

Los Angeles Clippers big man Serge Ibaka (R), shown May 22, 2021, played in the Clippers' first two playoff games against the Dallas Mavericks but had missed the last seven games. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Los Angeles Clippers big man Serge Ibaka (R), shown May 22, 2021, played in the Clippers' first two playoff games against the Dallas Mavericks but had missed the last seven games. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 11 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Clippers big man Serge Ibaka will miss the remainder of the playoffs after undergoing back surgery, the team announced.

In a statement released Friday, the Clippers said Ibaka had the procedure Thursday in Los Angeles. According to the team, the veteran center is expected to make a full recovery.

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Ibaka, who was in his first season with the Clippers, missed 30 consecutive games due to the back ailment before returning for the team's final two regular-season contests. He played in Los Angeles' first two playoff matchups against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, then missed the next seven postseason games.

"There is nothing I would love more than being on the court helping my brothers and trying to win a championship for #ClipperNation," Ibaka wrote on Instagram. "It's been a very tough season, I worked very hard to be back in time for the playoffs but sometimes injuries get in the way and health has to be a priority.

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"I appreciate all the love and support from everyone and now I have my mindset on supporting my team and getting healthy and ready for next season."



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The 31-year-old Ibaka was one of the Clippers' top off-season additions. After the departures of Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green in free agency, the Clips expected the two-time NBA blocks leader to serve as a key piece in their quest to win a championship.

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Ibaka started his first 39 games until he was forced to sit out with the back injury in mid-March. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 23.3 minutes per game this season.

Ivica Zubac served as the Clippers' starting center while Ibaka was sidelined during the regular season. Los Angeles has been starting either Zubac or Nicolas Batum at center in the playoffs.

The Clippers trail the top-seeded Utah Jazz 2-0 in their best-of-seven series. Game 3 of the series is set for Saturday night.

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