Westbrook owns a 25.0 PER.
Along the way, Durant struggled against Memphis and bulldog defender Tony Allen, had a few fits against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round, most notably when Chris Paul unexpectedly had success guarding him down the stretch of Game 4, and has looked like the third best player, at best, in this conference final.
“I feel like I put my handprint on the series,” Durant said of his performance thus far against the Spurs. “It may not be in the usual way that people expect me to go out and score 40 a game, but I think I put my imprint on the series.”
Durant explained that he’s altered his approach in this series.
“It’s a different series compared to the first two, whereas you’ve got to beat this team with a group of guys,” Durant said. “Against the Clippers, me and Russell, we came out and scored 40 points apiece and (would) be able to win. But this team makes you play with everybody…We can’t just focus on going out and scoring a lot of points.”
More than anything, it’s been Durant’s energy level and body language that seemingly has dipped in this series. Gone is the cold-blooded ‘Slim Reaper’ we witnessed coming for defenders’ souls this past winter. More and more, Durant appears content deferring to Westbrook and other teammates.
When the Spurs switched their best perimeter defender, third-year forward Kawhi Leonard, onto Westbrook in Game 4, a figurative slap in Durant’s face, he watched it happen without punishing his eventual defender, Danny Green.
His coach fell on the sword for that Friday.
“We have to — I have to — do a better job of putting him in positions when he’s guarded by, like (Thursday) night, guarded by Green, to be able to catch and be able to attack quickly and not a lot of dribbling,” Brooks said. “I think that’s when he’s at his best (against) guys that are guarding him with small guys.”
If history is an indicator, Durant will be ready Saturday.
In the Thunder’s first two Game 6s this postseason, Durant scored 36 points with 10 rebounds in a road win over Memphis and dropped 39 points with 16 rebounds in a road win over the Clippers.
In six career Game 6s, Durant has averaged 28.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.1 blocks and 2.6 turnovers while shooting 41.4 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from 3-point range and 88.8 percent from the free throw line in 42.8 minutes.
Saturday night might be a footnote in Durant’s career.
Or it could become a resume booster that simply reminds us all who we know him to be.
It’s all up to the MVP.
“We know that it’s a situation where we lose, we go home, and nobody wants to do that,” Durant said. “So we just leave it out there, and whatever happens we live with. Most of the time, when we play extremely hard, play well, play together, we come out on top.”