“My heart is heavy, always,” Durant said before the Thunder practiced and attempted to correct some of the errors from a 91-85 loss in Game 3 that gave the Heat a 2-1 series lead. “I’ve always been a guy that’s been focused on the task at hand. Once I step on the floor, all that stuff is out my head and once I step off, that’s when I kind of think about it again.”
Durant will again try to put aside his off-court concerns so that he can help the Thunder claim a victory and draw even, knowing that no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals.
But in order for Oklahoma City to bounce back from losing consecutive games for the second time this postseason, Durant will have to avoid the foul trouble that has plagued him the past two games.
“I just have to play smarter,” Durant said. “I’ve never really been a guy that complains about it or gets mad at a ref for making a call, so I’ve just got to play through it and be myself, and whatever happens, happens. I’m going to leave everything out there.”
He has committed five fouls in both losses and was forced to sit with his fourth foul during a momentum-swinging 5-minute, 41-second stretch in the third period when he bit on a Dwyane Wade pump fake, jumped and grazed him on the way down.
The Thunder built the lead to 10 points while Durant sat but trailed by two when he and Russell Westbrook returned at the start of the fourth quarter. After James Harden made a driving layup to give Oklahoma City a 77-76 lead, however, it foundered and Durant never regained his offensive rhythm.
“I didn’t want to come out of the game, but I knew that it was going to be tough for Coach to play [me] with four fouls,” said Durant, who scored 21 points before committing his fourth foul. “But that’s a part of playing basketball, man. It’s fight through adversity and fight through tough times, and I think we did that and gave ourselves a chance to win. Unfortunately we didn’t.”
Durant has had his fourth-quarter moments throughout the postseason and this series in particular, as he led the Thunder to a 105-94 victory in Game 1 with a 17-point fourth-quarter outburst. He had 16 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2, but missed a baseline jumper over James with less than 10 seconds remaining that could’ve tied the game. In Game 3, James guarded Durant for most of the fourth quarter, Durant finished with just four points, shot just 2 of 6 – including two misses that hit the opposite side of the backboard – and committed two turnovers.