Friday, May 16, 2014
Durant carries Thunder to Western Finals
By ESPN Stats & Information
Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Durant started slow, but came alive to record his 9th 30-point game of this postseason.
Kevin Durant did it again. The NBA's 2013-14 MVP stepped up when his team needed its go-to guy. Durant netted his ninth 30-point game of the postseason. No other player has more than four this postseason.
With Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder advancing to the Western Conference Finals, here's how Durant (and the Thunder) got there and what to expect against the San Antonio Spurs.
Joins some exclusive lists
With his 39 points Thursday night, Durant joined a nice list. Durant trails only Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson for the most points per game averaged in potential series-clinching games.
Another impressive list? The last five players to record a 35-15-5 playoff game:
Durant (twice), LeBron James (twice) and Carmelo Anthony. Durant finished Game 6 with 39 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.
And one more. Since 1990, only three players have posted 35-15-5 in series-clinching wins. Durant, Hakeem Olajuwon (twice) and Michael Jordan.
Overcomes slow start
Durant was held to only three points on 1 of 7 shooting in the first quarter. In the final three quarters, Durant dropped 36 points on 11 of 16 shooting.
Durant found his success by figuring out Matt Barnes. Barnes shut down Durant in Game 5 (Durant shot 2 of 14 against Barnes, including 0 of 11 on jump shots). And Barnes was on his way to doing it again.
In the first quarter, Durant was defended by Barnes the entire time, extending his shooting slump to 3 of 21 in the last five quarters against the Clipper stopper. But in the final three quarters, Durant scored 19 points against Barnes (7 of 10 shooting).
On to San Antonio
Durant and the Thunder move on to the Western Conference Finals to face the San Antonio Spurs.
Durant and his teammates should be up to the challenge.
The Spurs "held" Durant to 26.3 points per game (his fewest against any opponent he faced more than twice) in their four meetings during the regular season.
However, the Thunder swept all four meetings against the Spurs, winning all four by at least six points.