May 3, 2013, 8:57 PM EDT
In the last three games, Kevin Durant has scored 115 points, drawn 32 fouls and committed three charges.
Not only is he carrying the Thunder’s offense, he’s taking a beating to do it.
That probably won’t change in Game 6 with Russell Westbrook out for the rest of the playoffs.
Reggie Jackson showed signs of helping, scoring 20 points in Game 5, but a majority of those came in the fourth quarter while Durant didn’t score a single point. Can they mesh together?
Kevin Martin shot 1-for-10 in Game 5, and he made a third or fewer of his shots in three of the series’ other four games. Serge Ibaka has been up and down offensively, and at this point, that might just be the expectation.
At best, Jackson, Martin or Ibaka emerges as a No. 3-quality scorer next to Durant. Durant will just have to fill the No. 1 and No. 2 roles himself.
It’s a huge burden, and it might be weighing on Durant, considering how he disappeared in the fourth quarter of Game 6. But Durant is still the second-best player in the NBA, and he can lift his team past the Rockets, whose own star, James Harden, will have to do more without Carlos Delfino.
At some point, Durant will wear down from this strategy, probably in round two. But if it happens sooner, the Thunder might not make it even that far.
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- Byron Scott makes ridiculous optimism sound reasonable 40
- Derrick Rose told Carmelo Anthony that if he came to Chicago “the game would be easy” 40
- LeBron James strips on stage, throws clothes into crowd (video) 23
- Is DeMarcus Cousins the big man Team USA can lean on? 19
- Lakers make it official — finally — and hire Byron Scott as head coach 13
- Derrick Rose: “I’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.” 29