Kevin Durant is hot. You probably knew that, just watching the games or even glancing at the numbers. But Durant’s hot streak is reaching historic levels.
Durant’s scoring is soaring — 26.5 points a game in the Dallas playoff series, 26.8 against the Lakers, 29.5 against the Spurs and now 31.0 against the Heat — and all the while, his shooting percentage is improving.
Durant shot a respectable 45.5 percent from the field against Dallas, then 51.6 percent against the Lakers and 53.2 percent against San Antonio. Now against Miami, a team tailor-made to defend Durant, he’s shooting 57.4 percent, having made 35 of 61 shots.
That’s an incredible streak of efficiency. Durant has shot better than 50 percent in six straight games, and the last game in which he went under, Game 3 vs. the Spurs, Durant made eight of 17 shots. He was at 50 percent but missed his last attempt — at a point in which the Thunder had a 20-point lead.
For the entire playoffs, Durant is shooting 51.8 percent, a remarkable percentage for a guy who shoots a fair number of 3-pointers (99 in these playoffs alone) and isn’t a back-to-the-basket post man.
Durant was off his first two games of the 2012 post-season, a combined 15 of 44 against the Mavericks, but since then is shooting 54.4 percent from the field.
Of course, the most impressive number is Durant’s 57.4-percent shooting against the Heat, with either LeBron James or Shane Battier draped around him for most of the series.
To compare, LeBron is averaging almost as many points as Durant, 30.3, but is shooting 46.4 percent, a solid figure but one that pales compared to Durant.
I looked at the numbers for the three highest-scoring Finals ever by an individual.
Michael Jordan, 41.0, 1993: Jordan made 101 of 199 shots in a six-game series against Phoenix. That’s 50.7 percent. A fabulous series.
Rick Barry, 40.8, 1967: Barry made 94 of 235 shots in a six-game series against the 76ers, who beat Barry’s Warriors. That’s 40-percent shooting for Barry. And 39 shots per game. Can you imagine how many points Durant might score if given 39 shots a game?
Elgin Baylor, 40.6, 1962: Baylor made 97 of 202 shots in a seven-game series against the Celtics, who beat the Lakers. That’s 48.0-percent shooting. And 28.8 shots a game.
Durant is averaging 20.3 shots a game while scoring 31 points against the Heat. He’s having an historic series.