May 19, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha (25) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) in game one of the Western Conference Finals in the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Thabo Sefolosha Can't Afford to Miss

Thabo Sefolosha missing wide open shots–what else is new? It seems the 45% 3-point shooter from last year has disappeared. But if he wants to make any impact on this team besides playing his signature style of lock-down defense, he has to make those straightaway jumpers.

Throughout the regular season, Thabo averaged 6.3 on 41.5% shooting and a horrendous 31.5% from beyond the arc.  This postseason, his already lackluster numbers have taken a turn for the worse: 4.5 ppg on 45.8% shooting and 28.6% from three in 16 games.  It’s clear that his disappearing stroke has been a detriment to the Thunder.  Scott Brook’s defensive lineup of KD, Russ, Thabo Sefolosha, Collison, and Perkins, while ranking first among the team’s many lineups in defensive rating throughout the first two games of the series, simply creates too many issues on offense.  The lack of a third scoring option puts all the pressure on Durant and Westbrook, who are simply trying to do whatever it takes.  But it all comes down to Sefolosha, who has to hit that point blank wing three he’s so fond of taking — and airballing.

So what’s the answer?  It’s simple: Thabo has to start making his shots.  But what if that never happens? There’s no other clear solution to the issue: Caron Butler, the savvy veteran claimed off waivers in March, has been two streaky to totally rely on to start; put Reggie Jackson in the starting five and there’s no real spark off the bench; and the only real two options off the second unit, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, have played less than 15 minutes combined of real playoff basketball, and their lack of experience shows.  But they may be the Thunder’s last hope, providing that offensive spark their first unit is lacking.  The answer is Scott Brooks‘ to decide, but he and the Thunder are running out of time, down 2-0 to possibly the most fundamentally sound, well-coached team in the history of the league, and this time, they’re lacking a certain bearded man.

And as for Sefolosha, who finds himself in the final year of his contract, he might well be playing himself out of a job.


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