Their offense couldn’t have returned at a better time.
Not only did they lift the Thunder out of a 3-2 series hole, but their efforts might now provide the perfect bit of momentum needed as the Thunder prepares for a quick turnaround. Its second-round series gets underway in Oklahoma City on Monday.
And as the Thunder advances, it does so knowing Durant has his groove back. This first-round scare showed him and the Thunder they can’t afford for him to misplace it again.
“The game of basketball is played off of instincts,” Durant said. “I realized that I started playing this game to have fun, and I didn’t want to take the pure fun out of the game by just thinking too much. So I just released everything and enjoyed it. I knew if I play as hard as I could and put the work in for my team the results were going to show. I just forgot everything and just played my game.
“This game is more than half mental. It’s probably 60 or 70 percent mental because we’ve got the physical part down. I was thinking too much and worried about different things on the court and how I could score and where my shot was going to come from rather than just playing hard and letting the game come to me and keeping it simple.”
Before the start of Game 7, Durant looked each of his teammates in the eyes. He told himself he didn’t want to let them down. With his team facing a must-win or the prospects of a long summer, the soon-to-be-named MVP wanted to step up and show once again what he was made of.
He did, and the Thunder is moving on.
“I learned a valuable lesson in this series,” Durant said. “It was great for me. It was nerve-racking. But it was fun to be a part of.”