Kevin Durant played a well-balanced game in the 4th outing between the Thunder and Spurs. He worked hard to set up his teammates early on, and as a result we got to see a phenomenal payoff in the end. Not only does establishing players like Kendrick Perkins (15 points), Serge Ibaka (26 points) and Nick Collison (6 points) help the offense early, but when the game gets going late, it forces the defense to account for those players because they have proven to be dangerous if left open.
Durant scored 18 points in the 4th quarter (half of his game total) and in one five minute stretch scored 16 in a row. How did he do it? As it was happening real-time it might have seemed like he was scoring in every shape imaginable - jump shots, dunks, post-ups, etc. However, in reality he and the Thunder were using the exact same offensive set on 7 out of the 8 plays. In fact, it is a play set that we have highlighted here and Royce Young at Daily Thunder has espoused on it as well.
Young put together KD's scoring run in video form, so watch it here and see if you can spot the play.
A few more comments after the jump.
This play set is perhaps my favorite that the Thunder run, and while they tend to only use it in the 4th, I think it is the ideal set to apply whenever they need to free up Durant for a quality shot attempt. The set is great in part because the Thunder's 3 best offensive players are on the court, they are all involved in the set, and they are all threats (none of them are just standing around).
In lieu of me doing a complete breakdown of each set, head on over to Jordan Kahn's post at Hickory High:
For some more additional screen shot breakdown and helpful animated gifs, check out SB Nation's own Mike Prada, who adds to the conversation HERE.
Kahn and Prada do a great job showing how this set is the perfect kind to take advantage of Durant's skills. Westbrook is a good screener and can free up Durant to give him space to work, and once that pindown screen happens, the defense must make hard decisions. As you can see in the breakdown, fighting through the screen doesn't work because it gives Durant too much space to curl into the lane. Neither Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson, or Manu Ginobili are long enough to stop that shot. If the defense switches on the screen, you either have Westbrook's man (Tony Parker) trying to stop Durant, or Westbrook in a mismatch down low. If the defense tries to jump the screen, Durant goes back-door. As you watch each of these plays go forward, you can actually see Harden checking off these options as the screen develops.
The play set works so well because, as we mention above, the Thunder have forced the Spurs to respect the offense of Perkins and Ibaka, and it would be foolhardy for any of the Spurs to leave their man in order to double-team Durant when he comes off the curl. In Game 1 of the Dallas series, we saw how Durant would be able to spot Ibaka when the double-teams came, and Ibaka has learned to finish strong at the rim.
In the end though, the play works because Durant has built himself into a triple-threat player when he receives a pass with space in which to work. Look for the Thunder to continue to use this set and for Durant to thrive when the Thunder offense needs points.