There’s no better stage then a game 7. Yeah, the stats heavily back the home teams (something like 80%) in Game 7’s along the history of the NBA. The Thunder are the better team. But after Durant’s Game 6 – 11 points while shooting 3-14, doubts were creeping around the minds of some covering the league and probably got a few people worried in Oklahoma City.
It was a weird season for Durant. After winning the scoring title in 2009-2010, averaging 30.1 points per game, he got labeled as the ‘Next Big Star’. His performance in the FIBA World Championships backed up the fact he was heading for another monster year. What happened? Durant had a very good year, but didn’t leap into another stratosphere as some foolishly expected. He averaged “just” 27.7 points per game, leading the league again. Shame on him.
The rise of Russell Westbrook, a player many called the “Real MVP” of this team, a fantastic and versatile point guard who let all the talk of him being as good as Derrick Rose get to his head sometimes (attempting nearly 20 shots a game) kind of made Durant look less than special, or at least not as special like in 2009-2010.
Russell Westbrook is an exceptional talent, one of the best point guards in the league and is very close to Rose on an athletic level. That’s were it stops. Rose can take over games and win them nearly by himself on a regular basis. Westbrook can’t. Durant can. Westbrook and his head coach, Scottie Brooks, need to get it – Triple double nights from Westbrook or nights when he acts like a true points guard – pass first, are much better for the Thunder. Oklahoma are 42-14 when Westbrook sets up at least 16 points for his teammates.
Kevin Durant struggled early, again. He’s been having trouble with Tony Allen all series, limited 30% from the field when the former Celtic was guarding him. Some say it was an image of his mom dancing on the screen that pumped him before his huge onslaught. I find that hard to believe, but whatever makes people happy. Anyhow, Durant exploded with Allen guarding him or not. 39 Points, his best of the series. He saved his best during the Nuggets series for the closing time, pouring down 41 in the final Game 5.
This is how Durant should be. Aggressive. Him settling for jumpers and long long threes don’t get him in the rhythm. Its from scoring in transition, off screens and driving to the hole with those freakishly long arms that open things up for him and the rest of the Thunder, like James Harden with another great night off the bench (17 points) and for Russell Westbrook to run things the right way – 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. He’s the first player since Gary Payton to record a triple double for the franchise that used to be the Seattle Supersonics.
Next up for Durant are Dallas – He averaged nearly 30 points a night against them during the regular season while shooting 52% from the field. Dallas won two of three against the Thunder, but as this post season shows us again and again, the 82 games up to April don’t mean squat. Durant needs to keep whatever drove him on Sunday night going. He’s the best offensive player in the league when he’s like that. It’s him the Thunder need to explode and lead the point scoring, not Westbrook.