Can Sefolosha get his corner 3 back?

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: What must OKC change in Game 2?

SAN ANTONIO – This is a contract season for Thabo Sefolosha, but you wouldn’t know it from his statistics. The veteran shooting guard is a defensive specialist, but he’s also been a dangerous and necessary corner 3-point shooter for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Only his accuracy has mostly gone MIA this season.

He shot just 31.6 percent from beyond the arc after consecutive seasons of shooting better than 40 percent. His slide has continued into the postseason — 28.6 percent — and it’s led to erratic minutes and even sitting out the entirety of Games 6 and 7 in the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies when coach Scott Brooks instead inserted Caron Butler in the starting lineup to help space the floor.

In Game 1 of the Western Conference finals and the San Antonio Spurs, Sefolosha played just 16 minutes and after missing his first three jumpers and being yanked midway through the first quarter, he sat for the remainder of the first half.

Sefolosha expressed frustration with his limited playing time after the game. On Tuesday he took a less opinionated tact.

“I don’t really want to talk on it. It’s coach’s decision,” Sefolosha said. “When I’m on court I’m going to play and when I’m not I’m going to cheer for the guys. You know, it’s part of the game.”

The Thunder need Sefolosha’s offense more now than ever with third-leading scorer Serge Ibaka shelved presumably for the remainder of the playoffs with a calf injury. With Nick Collison replacing Ibaka, the Thunder suddenly start three low-scoring offensive players in Sefolosha, Collison and center Kendrick Perkins.

In Game 1, those three combined to go 2-for-10 from the floor for five points, all scored by Perkins. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant accounted for 53 of 58 points scored by the starting lineup.

Sefolosha’s corner 3s have always come off kickouts from Westbrook and Durant penetrations as defenses collapse. The benefit to the Thunder’s offense when Sefolosha hits 40 percent from the arc is obvious. During the regular season, 56 percent of Sefolosha’s 3-point attempt came from the corners as did 60 percent of his makes.

He’s just 3-for-9 from the corners in the playoffs.

The Spurs forced Sefolosha off the 3-point arc altogether. He ducked under defenders following a shot fake and badly missed on this first three mid-range in the first quarter. Nearly 44 percent of Sefolosha’s shot attempts this postseason have been 3s, but he managed just one on four shot attempts in Game 1.

“If the 3 is open, I definitely would rather take the 3,” Sefolosha said. “But they did a decent job getting us off the line.”

8 Comments

  1. okc2014 says:

    Sefalosha and Perkins are not good fits for the Thunder moving forward. You all may be right about Scotty Brooks, the jury is still deliberating on that one. I’m tired of OKC not making solid player trades during the off season. Let’s get someone spectacular! Let’s do it! Go Thunder! Go Kevin Durant!

  2. Helen Stendt says:

    Who cares. Even if he makes 3 3′s more, OKC still loses with double digits.

  3. James says:

    No difference from last year playoff. OKC have some of the worst shooter. Perkin is slow, got hot temper and get easy foul. Sefolosha is Mr Brick, Butler is another Brick one. Jackson is a so so player, he turn on one game turn off the next three….OKC have other good players that never have chance to play or develop into playoff. Very slim chance..!

  4. Steven P says:

    I agree with Jake. At the beginning of the season they knew and understood how important J. Lamb was going to be but Brooks has buried him on the bench. He did not develop Adams during Perkins absence and has not given him enough time yet, though he continues to play well in limited minutes. J. Lamb could be further along but sporadic time has shaken him but he still is the one that can loosen this court if he knocks a couple of 3′s and long jumpers down. Sefolosha’s defense is not needed as much in this series on the SG. Get Lamb 12-15 minutes a game immediately..

  5. Chuck says:

    Brooks is Brooks. The truth is OKC has not really improved, especially on defense in over two years, and in spite of the three core guys maturing and with the addition of Adams and now Butler. They still lack discipline and schemes. Detroit thought they got Brooksdisciple in Mo, and saw immediately his lack. The Thunder need a strong coach, not a brotherly one, to get the most out of these guys. Adams could have layer big minutes while Perk was out, but didn’t for some reason. He will be a star.

  6. MR210 says:

    If OKC is to have any kind of shot at winning a game – they always need KD or Westbrook on the floor.
    During game one, there was a period where both were on the bench.
    Brooks needs to do a better job of coaching and stagger their playing time so one of them is always on the bench.

    Or…maybe have Westbrook come off the bench and start Reggie Jackson. Reggie and KD play well together.
    But Westbrook would probably throw a fit.

    Either way – Brooks has the tougher job trying to coach his team with all flaws. He’s got to do a better job coaching and countering what Pop does if OKC is to make it a series.

    I just don’t see them capable of winning a game.

    This is chess – and Coach Pop is the best chess player.

    GO SPURS GO – DRIVE FOR FIVE!

  7. kek says:

    I cant really see thunder winning this series with ibaka out, perk is probaly the worst offensive player in the league, and nick collison doesnt score much either, thabo are throwing bricks. With that starting unit they got no scoring, and without them they cant defend, very bad situation for okc.

  8. jake s. says:

    I remember he grabbed 30 points in Phoenix during the 2012-2013 season. Since that point, he has hesitated. He’s missing wide open 3 pointers. Thunder need to fast track Roberson, or start J-lamb. I can’t watch another season of Sefolosha bricking wide open shots.