No, Kevin Durant isn’t ‘Mr. Unreliable’


(Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Kevin Durant is getting a lot of flack this morning.

The Thunder trails the Memphis Grizzlies, 3-2, in the first round and a loss in Thursday night’s Game 6 would make Durant just the second MVP of the past 30 years to fail to win a playoff series. Some of the disappointment can be attributed to Tony Allen making Kevin Durant’s life miserable as well as some poor free throw shooting:

Durant went to the foul line three times – and made just one of two on all three trips, including a miss after Crawford’s interruption, when the Thunder trailed 100-99 with 27.5 seconds left in overtime, a score that held up at the end. For six years, Durant has shot foul shots on a string. Mister Automatic. Now he’s unreliable.

But what about Durant’s teammate Russell Westbrook?

Durant and Westbrook combined to miss the last 12 shots of the first half for Oklahoma City in Game 5, and in the last two games the two are just 31 of 100 from the field. Westbrook has also not fared as well as Durant in “clutch” situations (less than three minutes left and the game within five points). Durant is 7 for 16 from the field (43.8 percent), Westbrook is 4 for 15 (26.7 percent).


Russell Westbrook shot chart for the 2014 NBA playoffs with less than three minutes left and the game within five points

To make matters worse, it appears Westbrook is a bit of a ball hog this postseason, averaging  8.7 seconds between passes.

Let’s not forget about Thunder guard Reggie Jackson, who had a career-high 32 points in Game 4 but was 0 for 4 (0 points) with two turnovers in the second half and overtime on Tuesday.

And then there is Thunder Coach Scott Brooks, who doesn’t appear to make any adjustments despite his two superstars taking 58 percent of the team’s shots in Game 5.

Looks like there is enough blame to go around.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Neil Greenberg · May 1