It’s hard to find positives to take away from yesterday’s Oklahoma City Thunder-Miami Heat game if you are a Thunder fan. They lost 103-97 in the same fashion they were outplayed during the NBA Finals vs. Miami.
But there is one thing that Thunder fans should appreciate and feel very good about: Kevin Durant doesn’t back down from LeBron James. In fact, he is very close to his equal in a head-to-head matchup.
Remember how everyone wanted to say that LeBron completely outplayed Durant in the NBA Finals? Not true. He was better overall and that’s a big reason why the Heat won but Durant held his own and then some.
Durant averaged 30.6 points on 54.8 percent shooting from the field in the Thunder’s 4-1 Finals loss back in June. Yesterday, Durant scored 33 points with 25 of those coming in the second half as more than a few times, he took LeBron – the best, most perfect defender you could ever put on Durant – on one-on-one and scored on him.
Durant doing this and doing it so often is going unnoticed and not for no reason. LeBron has also been spectacular in these head-to-head games, but the differential of him vs. Durant is less than it’s being made out to be.
It’s amazing too because Durant is four years younger than LeBron. If he were completely struggling and in awe of playing against him at this point in his career that would be perfectly acceptable. We’ve seen that all the time through the years in this league.
But Durant seems very close to getting over the hump and becoming an equal to LeBron, if he hasn’t already. He does it in a slightly different way that won’t be looked at as highly as the way LeBron is effective but at the end of the day, it can be enough to overtake the King.
The Thunder really played a very poor game yesterday. It was nothing like what they showed during their winning streak the past few weeks. They were still in the game in the final minutes just like how they were during the NBA Finals.
Remember when the Thunder went down 0-2 vs. the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals then everything suddenly clicked for them? There is a good chance that fate will again be the Thunder’s if they see the Heat again in the NBA Finals.
If you think about it, it seems very plausible. And the position the Thunder are currently in, so close to that point where they can beat the Heat, is really the ideal spot to be in right now.
Because when the Thunder finally do become a team ready to beat the Heat in a series, Miami won’t have time to react. We see it all the time in this league and the Thunder have already shown they are a team capable of something like this.
The best news of all: Durant is already there. He just needs to bring his teammates along with him and he is already in the process of doing this. It all starts with your best player and knowing that Durant is ready, is something Thunder fans have to be happy about.