There has been a large focus on Kevin Durant‘s play during the post-season, with one newspaper even going as far as the label him “Mr. Unreliable” on the front page headline. While he didn’t use “that” headline as motivation, he did break the shackles and ensure that the Oklahoma City Thunder would head back home for a Game 7.
Durant finished the game with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists (with a +27 performance).
The Thunder attacked this game from the opening tip and took the crowd out of the game. Durant was brilliant early scoring at will and attacking the basket at every opportunity. He got the the rim and to the foul line and converted accordingly. This was the performance that Thunder fans were waiting for, and that some media felt he wasn’t going to be able to contribute against the defensive pressure of the Grizzlies. He repaid the Thunder faithful and quietened the critics.
As OKC’s lead grew, so did the confidence in the Thunder squad. Everyone played their part to perfection, including head coach Scott Brooks who went with Caron Butler over Thabo Sefolosha in the starting line up. It allowed the Thunder to space the floor a lot better and that allowed Durant to do what he does best – score the basketball. The solid start, their champion on fire and the Thunder were out in front and would not relinquish that lead for the remainder of the game.
You can’t keep champion players down. They always find a way to rise to the occasion, and Durant was able to do that in Game 6. With his team down 3-2 and on the verge of a first round exit, something had to be done. They were playing against a tough opposition who seemingly had all the answers for them and they were playing on the road in front of a hostile crowd. That was all the motivation he needed. Not the critics, not the headlines. He wants to win, and he showed that grit and determination in this game.
There is still one more win that he needs to ensure the Thunder grab to secure a place in the second round of the NBA playoffs. You can guarantee that in front of his home crowd, with Chesapeake arena at full volume and with his team needing some MVP brilliance once again – Durant will be there. It seems after all, he is quite reliable like that.