Kevin Durant has earned the title of “Best Closer” in the NBA and this afternoon in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. the Memphis Grizzlies, Durant showed why.
Durant came down to pull up for this jump shot in transition with 11 seconds left in the game to give the Thunder a 91-90 lead over the Grizzlies and complete a double-digit, second half comeback for the Thunder.
Durant finished the game with 35 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and two blocks. He scored 12 points in the final 7:20 of the game.
The Thunder have looked like they are in trouble ever since the Russell Westbrook injury but Durant has done everything in his power to make us forget about that. He’s averaging 35.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists in five games without Westbrook in the playoffs. He’s also shooting 50.8 percent from the field in that time.
The Thunder are going to need Durant to keep playing at this level to have a chance to get past the Grizzlies in this series. Memphis is used to coming from behind already in these playoffs as they lost the first two games of their first round series vs. the Los Angeles Clippers before going on to win the next four.
The way Memphis defended Durant, it looks like he will be able to continue to dominate unless they change something. The Grizzlies used Tayshaun Prince on Durant for most of the game and gave him little help. Durant even missed a bunch of shots that he usually knocks down.
Like the Houston series, expect the Grizzlies to start loading up on Durant even more the rest of the series. It will become even more important as the series goes on for Kevin Martin, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson to step up.