How Did Kevin Durant's Three-Point Miss Impact the Outcome of Last Night's Game Against the Heat?
Full disclosure: I'm a big Kevin Durant fan. And when healthy, I think the guy is the second or third best player in the game.
So I'm glad to see he's healthy again and dunking on fellas.
What I'm not a big fan of his decision to shoot a three while up two on the Miami Heat with 51 seconds left in last night's game.
Some of you might not agree, citing Durant's outstanding 45.7% rate from deep or even his 52.9% shooting from the middle of the three-point circle. I see your point there, sure. But when you look back at the shot itself, Durant was moving to his left towards the left portion of the three-point arc, where he's shot 5/17 so far this season.
However, that's not even my biggest gripe with that shot selection. The problem I have with it is really two-fold.
For starters, the Thunder were ahead by two points. A made layup or two-point shot would have done everything but guarantee the Thunder a victory with a four point lead and just 40-plus seconds to go.
If that wasn't bad enough, there was a whole 11 seconds left on the shot clock. I could understand the shot a little better if there were three to maybe even six seconds left on the shot clock, but it was a relatively quick shot for a team with a two-point lead. On the miss, the Heat had plenty of time to stay in the game let alone win it.
Not His Night
KD's shot was actually poor timing in another sense as well: It just wasn't his night.
He hit just 2 of 12 shots from the perimeter, and even missed 2 of his 7 free throw attempts. For an 89% free throw shooter, that's an off night. It might've been due to his early (and questionable) foul trouble, and the fact that it probably took him out of any kind of rhythm he built up before game time. Or it could've been Green and Winslow's great combined defensive effort.
Who knows -- maybe it was both. Whatever it was, Durant just wasn't on last night.
And basketball people know that when you're off and your shot's not falling -- especially late in the game when your legs are at their heaviest -- it's time to take the ball to the hole. And that's what Durant did for a good part of the game. According to his shot chart via NBA.com, he finished six of nine from inside, or just outside, the painted area. When he wanted to get into the paint and finish -- like he did on his monster dunk -- he did it.
One more drive to the rack could've been key to victory.
The drive that should've happened never did, and with it went the Thunder's big two point advantage. According to our handy-dandy numberFire Live platform, prior to Durant's three-point miss, the Thunder had an 87% chance of winning the game.
After the Durant miss and a clutch Dwyane Wade bucket, the Thunder and Heat were at even odds and an even score, at 95-95.
From that point, Durant went on to miss another three, and Wade was fouled on a drive to the basket with just over one second remaining in the game.
Despite their slim chances (13%) with under a minute to play, the Heat came back to defeat the Thunder 97-95, proving how big of an affect one shot -- more importantly, one decision -- can have on a game.