Just when it looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t do anything to get over the hump and beat the San Antonio Spurs, they came through with a 102-82 blowout win in Game 3 Thursday.The two biggest reasons why OKC now finds itself only down two games to one instead of in an insurmountable 3-0 hole is ball movement and defence in Game 3.
Much of the credit for the Thunder’s great defence that held the Spurs to only 82 points on an abysmal 39.5 per cent shooting to go along with a really un-Spurs-like 21 turnovers (they only averaged 14.5 per game in the first two contests) should go to Thabo Sefolosha.
OKC head coach Scott Brooks used Sefolosha to defend Tony Parker and it worked beautifully.
Parker, who was coming off an incredible 34 points on 16-21 shooting performance, was no where near as effective with the bigger Sefolosha on him (Sefolosha has about 5 inches and 30 pounds on Parker).
Parker did shoot well overall (6-12) but he turned the ball over five times, and more importantly for OKC Sefolosha barely let him enter the lane (where Parker makes his living).
This is Parker’s shot chart from Game 3. Notice he only took two shots from the painted area after having a combined 14 attempts from close range in the first two games of the series.
It also doesn’t hurt that Sefolosha added a playoff career high 19 points of his own to take the load off OKC’s big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
Visibly frustrated Spurs head coach Gregg Poppovich pulled his regulars at the end to keep them fresh for the rest of the series, but his biggest issue is going to be getting Parker going again.
Sefolosha was brought to the Thunder to be a defensive specialist and normally defends tall wing players like LeBron James or Paul Pierce. Putting him on Parker in Game 3 was a genius move on the part of Brooks and we don’t expect that to change going forward.
No, Sefolosha won’t have many 19 point nights to make up for Westbrook playing awful (10 points, 5-15 shooting). Also, the Spurs won’t look so dreadful very often. However, if Sefolosha can keep neutralising Parker the Thunder can climb back into this series.
And that is something very few of us thought we would be discussing after San Antonio’s first two wins.
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