Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – While Miami Heat star LeBron James is used to the never-ending scrutiny that goes along with playing in the NBA Finals, Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant is getting his first taste of it this year.
As the hours tick by towards Game 4, Durant knows the pressure is squarely on his shoulders to prevent the Heat from going up 3-1 on the Thunder in the Finals.
“I’m going to shoot it until my arms fall off man,” Durant said Tuesday morning. “That’s what I do. And I don’t care if I’m missing or I’m making, I’m going to keep believing in myself. I really don’t care what people say on the outside.”
Durant has been a quiet star who has let his game do the talking, think Tim Duncan. He’s established himself as arguably the best pure scorer in the NBA and his trip to the Finals has been his coming out party for the rest of the sports world.
Durant is averaging 31 points per game in the NBA Finals and is shooting an incredible 57 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the 3-point line. If you remove the 3-point attempts, Durant is shooting 66 percent from inside the arc.
The one problematic area for Durant in the NBA Finals has been getting into foul trouble. In Game 3, Durant was tasked with guarding LeBron for stretches in the game and he amassed fouls quickly. Durant had to sit the last several minutes of the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul.
If the Thunder is to take a game in Miami, Durant will have to have one of the best games of his life. He’s more than capable of hanging 40 on the Heat. Durant’s all-time scoring high was 51 points which he dropped on the Denver Nuggets on February 19.
Still, the Heat presents Durant with an entirely different defense than he’s used to in the Western Conference. The Heat’s athleticism and trapping defense, along with Shane Battier’s hand in the face, have at some points stifled Durant during the Finals.
Oklahoma City isn’t shaken though and has been in this situation before, most recently in the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.
“We were down 2-0 against San Antonio and everybody thought the series was over,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “But I know our guys, they’re very competitive, they’re very resilient. They’ve always showed that type of effort every game, and we’ve always been a great bounce-back team.”
Miami Heat fans are hoping Coach Brooks is wrong when Game 4 tips off Tuesday night at 9 p.m. at the AmericanAirlines Arena.