Kevin Durant added to his increasing list of clutch moments with his fourth quarter performance in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals vs. San Antonio Saturday night.
Durant scored 18 points in that quarter including a stretch of 16 in a row. He was unstoppable and the Thunder needed every one of those shots too.
Durant is now well on his way to becoming the best closer in the league.
“I’m not where I want to be, but I’m going to keep growing in those situations,” Durant said. “I think those tough times are going to help me get better.”
Before this series, Durant made three game-winning shots in the first two rounds of the playoffs, most notably his fadeaway in Game 1 against Dallas.
Durant has been known as one of the best offensive players in the league ever since he came into the NBA. He has led the league in scoring in each of the last three seasons.
But becoming a closer takes more than a well-rounded offensive arsenal. It’s about wanting the ball, demanding the ball and knowing that if you fail, the blame is on you.
You want a closer to have the right attitude and you want him to have the talent. We always knew Durant had the game but the mental side wasn’t always there.
The Thunder have done a great job this year putting him in position to take his closing role to another level.
The Thunder were criticized last season for not being able to get Durant the ball late in games and he often would be pushed way beyond the 3-point line before receiving a pass.
The Thunder have changed that this season and nowhere was it more noticeable than the fourth quarter of Game 4 against the Spurs.
Scott Brooks finds something that works and he sticks to it. It was a simple offensive play that got Durant the ball every time in a spot he was very comfortable in and spaced the floor to his left and right with Russell Westbrook and James Harden to help avoid doubles.
“His ability to make shots under pressure is great,” Brooks said. “But I like the fact this year he’s really stepped up on making plays and making the right play.”
The Thunder were able to tie up this series after losing the first two on the road. They have simply done what they were supposed to winning at home.
While Durant was spectacular closing out Game 4, the role players really played a huge role in why the Thunder won the past two games. It’s no secret that role players often shrink on the road and for the Thunder to withstand that, another big game from Durant will be necessary.
We found out what we probably already knew was true at the end of Game 4: the Spurs can’t match up with Kevin Durant. The Thunder will need to again take advantage of this in Game 5 to go up in this series and get in position to advance to the NBA Finals.