James Nosek | Press Box Perspectives Editor/Columnist
Cool, calm and collective.
That was the Oklahoma City Thunder. That was the OKC crowd. And that was Kevin Durant.
Being down by 13 in the first game of the NBA Finals, against a team like the Miami Heat, can be a daunting task—especially when this is the first go-around for the young Thunder, led by the 23-year old superstars.
But as we found out, it wasn’t daunting enough.
The young NBA franchise, and its core of young talent, turned out to have the “it factor” that the Heat have been looking for the last two years. Instead of LeBron James, who is playing in his third NBA Finals, and Dwayne Wade, who is an NBA champion himself, doing what they had to do in game one, Durant and guard Russell Westbrook answered the call—they stole the show.
And in a big way, specifically, from Durant who put the team on his back in the final frame and closed out the Heat. His big 36 point performance showed LeBron and company that he’s not playing around.
This loss isn’t about LeBron—as he had his Finals best 3o points—but it’s about a playing a more poised and chemistry based team, led by Durant.
Durant is that laid back, quiet, but deadly son of a gun who seems like a guy that would rather enjoy partaking in hours of fun on 4/20 then playing basketball. But, as he has said many times, basketball is his life. He definitely showed it last night. For being a 23-year old in his first ever NBA Finals game the pressure to bring your team back, as well as try and outshine the league’s MVP, who is coming off a huge series against the Celtics, could have been too much to handle.
Not for the Durantula.
Almost every play in the 4th quarter was created by Durant: runners in the lane, mid-range jumpers, three pointers, dunks. He was doing it all and that’s why the stat sheet read 17 points for his 4th quarter total.
The poise he showed as a leader wasn’t something new from him—that laid back attitude is how he plays every game—but for his debut act in the NBA Finals, it proved a lot more. It helped Westbrook get going, it helped get the OKC crazies in high gear and it helped pretty much spark the rest of the team.
In the matter of a quarter, this game was out of hand.
Once again: cool, calm and collective.