Kevin Durant is headed back to the NBA Finals for the 2nd time in his career, and he’s doing it with eye-popping stats: 55 percent shooting and 41 percent on 3-pointers, both career-highs in the playoffs.
Durant 28, last reached the NBA Finals in 2012 with the Thunder, where they took Game 1 from LeBron’s Heat (Durant scored 36 points), and then lost four straight.
In this his first season with the Warriors, Durant has meshed so well with Klay Thompson (27), Draymond Green (27) and Stephen Curry (29), that the Warriors are setting up as potentially the greatest dynasty in modern NBA history. Once they extend Curry this offseason, they’ll lose a key bench component – like 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala – but surely some veterans around the NBA will want to play for the league minimum to get a ring (like David West).
The last time the Warriors Big 4 lost a game together, was on February 4th in Sacramento. It was a stunning overtime defeat, and a weird game: Steve Kerr was ejected, the Warriors missed three shots in the final :07, and this video emerged of Green screaming at Durant in the huddle.
The game may have been a flashpoint in the season: Durant strangely shot just 2-of-10, as if he were trying to prove a point about something. In the final five minutes of regulation and overtime, Durant didn’t attempt a shot.
After that, the Warriors won three in a row, and then Thompson sat out a loss in Denver. Then they won two in a row, and Durant sat out a win over the Nets. They beat the 76ers at full strength, and then Durant went down early in the game vs Washington and missed nearly the rest of the season. The Warriors wisely staggered rest for the Big 4 at the end of the regular season, and the quartet didn’t unite again until the playoffs. Durant missed two games against the Blazers in the first round.
All told: The last 16 times the Big 4 played together, they won. The Cavaliers, who will have less rest than the Warriors heading into the Finals, have their work cut out for them.