A look at the Thunder’s next nine games and what Kevin Durant faces in his quest to surpass Michael Jordan for the longest stretch over the past 50 years of games in one regular season with at least 25 points.
Thursday — at Cleveland
•Durant’s career averages against the Cavs: 25.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 49.8 FG%, 12 games.
•Projected primary defender: Luol Deng.
•Comment: Deng is a quality defender, but the Cavs were yielding 105.2 points per game in March prior to Tuesday’s visit by Miami. And if Russell Westbrook is held out for rest, Durant will be forced to do a little more.
Friday — at Toronto
•Durant’s career averages against the Raptors: 23.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 42.4 FG%, 11 games.
•Projected primary defender: Terrence Ross.
•Comment: You might have never guessed that Durant has averaged fewer points against the Raptors than any other team. But it’s true. Some of that might have to do with lopsided final scores, because KD’s 35.6 minutes against Toronto also is his lowest against any team. But this year, the Raptors are actually a quality defensive team, ranking sixth in defensive efficiency. But if Gerald Green can score 28 on them, which he did Sunday, surely Durant can reach 25.
March 24 — vs. Denver
•Durant’s career averages against the Nuggets: 30.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.4 apg, 47 FG%, 25 games.
•Projected primary defender: Wilson Chandler.
•Comment: Durant has owned Denver. The Nuggets are one of only three teams that Durant has averaged at least 30 points against for his career. Golden State and Indiana are the other two. Denver has given up at least 25 points to an opposing player in six of their past nine games. Between the Nuggets’ deficient defense and them playing in OKC on the second night of a back-to-back, Durant should have no trouble adding his name to the list.
March 25 — at Dallas
•Durant’s career averages the Mavericks: 24.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 42.2 FG%, 23 games.
•Projected primary defender: Shawn Marion.
•Comment: Even on a horrible offensive night for the Thunder against the Mavs on Sunday, we saw Durant net 30 points. This time, though, Durant and the Thunder will be playing their fourth game in seven nights, with three of them having been played on the road. Watch out for the fatigue factor here.
March 28 — vs. Sacramento
•Durant’s career averages against the Kings: 28.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.8 apg, 49.2 FG%, 23 games.
•Projected primary defender: Rudy Gay.
•Comment: The last time Sacramento was in Oklahoma City, on Jan. 19, Durant dropped 30 points on 15 shots. Gay scored six on seven attempts and grew so frustrated he got himself ejected. The only thing that will stop Durant from scoring 25 in this one is limited minutes in a Thunder blowout.
March 30 — vs. Utah
•Durant’s career averages against the Jazz: 26.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 46.6 FG%, 26 games.
•Projected primary defender: Gordon Hayward.
•Comment: According to the numbers, the Jazz are the worst defensive team in basketball, yielding 108.5 points per 100 possessions. And Durant has taken advantage, averaging 36.3 points against Utah this season. Two of Durant’s league-best 11 40-point games have come against the Jazz, who are in an absolute tailspin with losses in 13 of 16 since the All-Star break.
April 3 — vs. San Antonio
•Durant’s career averages against the Spurs: 25.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.6 apg, 48.1 FG%, 24 games.
•Projected primary defender: Kawhi Leonard.
•Comment: The Spurs are the best defensive team the Thunder will see in this stretch. They rank fourth in defensive efficiency at 100.4 points per 100 possessions and know how to make anyone’s night miserable. Durant’s second-lowest scoring game of the season came at San Antonio on Dec. 21 when he scored just 17. But the Thunder won by 13 that night as Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson carried the load. This time, Durant will be on three days’ rest.
April 4 — at Houston
•Durant’s career averages against the Rockets: 25.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 48.0 FG%, 25 games.
•Projected primary defender: Chandler Parsons
•Comment: If he makes it this far, Durant can tie MJ’s record with another 25 against the Rockets. Even against solid defense, Durant carved up Houston in the last meeting, scoring 25 of his game-high 42 points in the second half on March 11. And if he does make it this far, nothing will stop Durant from pouring in 25.
April 6 — at Phoenix
•Durant’s career averages against the Suns: 26.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 45.7 FG%, 24 games.
•Projected primary defender: P.J. Tucker
•Comment: This one already is slated for NBA TV, allowing the country an opportunity to see history made.