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OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant says he must go to the next level

With the Thunder now two losses away from summer vacation, Oklahoma City now needs the very best from Durant to climb out of a 2-0 series hole as the Western Conference Finals shifts to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 22, 2014

It was a startling development for a team that talks about taking pride on defense.

“We have to be perfect as far as our energy, and our effort has to be there every play,” Durant said. “Schemes sometimes won’t work. Our pick-and-roll coverage won’t work sometime. But our effort has to be there. Against this team, you can’t take plays off. We realize that.”

One area in which Durant has really had a tough time is getting to high-percentage spots on the floor. He’s taken just two shots at the rim in this series, according to nba.com/stats. That’s down from seven attempts per game from that location in the regular season and 6.4 through the first two rounds of this postseason.

It’s diminished his efficiency and effectiveness as a scorer. He’s taken just nine free throws in the two games. He averaged 9.9 attempts in the regular season and 9.7 through the first two rounds of this postseason.

Wednesday night, Durant looked worn down. And there’s a chance he’s just that, mentally and physically fatigued. Remember, he lead the league in total minutes played at 3,122 in the regular season.

In these playoffs, the Thunder has ridden Durant for 43.3 minutes a night. His 649 total minutes this postseason are 70 more than Russell Westbrook, who totaled only 1,412 regular season minutes after missing 36 games. The closest Spur to Durant is Tim Duncan at 464 minutes, a 33.1 average.

So if Durant has any more dominant performances left in him, he’ll need to dig deep to pull it on display Sunday.

Otherwise, the Thunder’s season will be all but over.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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