SAN ANTONIO — Often in a high-level NBA playoff series, with stars equalizing each other all over the floor, the deciding factor can come in those fringe matchups.
The showdown between sixth men. The battle of the backup bigs. The cumulative effect of the role players.
Through two games and two brutal double-digit Thunder losses – the latest a 112-77 dismantling by the Spurs on Wednesday night – OKC has lost nearly every matchup on the floor.
But nowhere has it been more apparent than the starting shooting guard position.
Much like he did in the NBA Finals last season, Danny Green is thriving on the big stage. Viewed as a secondary piece – the fifth-best player on this loaded Spurs team – Green has played a starring role through two games against the Thunder.
He has 37 points on 13-of-19 shooting. He’s made 11 of his 15 threes. On Wednesday night, Green exploded for 21 points – six more than any player on the Thunder – going 7-of-10 from deep on a night OKC went 2-of-20.
Meanwhile, Green’s counterpart has been invisible. Through two games, Thabo Sefolosha is scoreless on 0-of-9 shooting.
In the final year of his contract with the Thunder, Sefolosha has struggled like never before. And as the playoff pressure has amped up, his scuffle has only worsened.
“I like the shots I’m getting,” Sefolosha said postgame, following an 0-of-5 night. “It’s just about finding a rhythm.”
Long known for his defense, Sefolosha was at least a capable offensive threat last season. He made 108 threes on 42 percent shooting. But this season, those numbers have fallen off a cliff.