The Oklahoma City Thunder are facing elimination against the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round of the playoffs, and the inconsistent play of Kevin Durant is one of the main reasons for that. Durant is averaging an impressive 28 points per game through the first five games of the series, but he is shooting just 40% from the floor. If the No. 2 seed Thunder are stunned by the Grizzlies, is Durant to blame?
We know where Thunder beat writer Berry Tramel stands. As you can see from the image above, the cover of The Oklahoman on Thursday referred to Durant as “Mr. Unreliable.” In the ensuing article, Tramel blasted Durant for allowing Tony Allen to shut him down.
Allen is inside Durant’s head. Durant is dazed and confused. Hesitant and docile. The Memphis Doberman has turned Durant into mere mortal this Western Conference playoff series. The Thunder is on the brink of elimination, and if Durant doesn’t return to something approaching the Slim Reaper in Game 6 Thursday night, Grim Sleeper is going to be more like it.
Durant has made just 40 percent of his shots against the Grizzlies. Allen’s been in Durant’s sneakers. Meets him at the bus and tucks him in at night. Then haunts Durant’s dreams.
Don’t believe it? Durant is so out of sorts, he’s not making hay even when Allen is on the bench charming teammates with his mercurial ways. The last two games, Durant has made just eight of 20 shots with Allen not in the game. Durant is so out of sorts, his foul shooting is mediocre — 28 of 39, a .718 percentage that is below NBA journeyman standards, much less Durant’s own .882 career percentage.
The low free throw percentage is certainly indicative of Durant feeling some added pressure, but that seems a bit harsh. Allen is a notoriously good defender and Durant has still averaged 28 points against him. And you could argue that referee Joey Crawford iced Durant before he missed a crucial free throw during Game 5.
Durant is only 25 years old. This is a bad time for him to not be shooting his best, but he has still been able to generate offense. He could easily explode in Game 6 at home and proceed to go on a tear.
H/T The Big LeadGoogle+