Kevin Durant's Game 4 Performance May Have Saved the Oklahoma City Thunder's Future
Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals could have been Kevin Durant's last game in Oklahoma City as a member of the Thunder.
They were down in the series 2-1 against the Spurs and down by four points in the game entering the fourth quarter.
Then, Kevin Durant happened.
Losing Game 4 and going down 3-1 against the Spurs would have all but ended their season.
According to WhoWins.com, teams that go down 3-1 in the series and travel for Game 5 have an all-time record of 2-151 in the series. It's safe to say the Thunder would have been eliminated from the playoffs.
The Fourth Quarter
Durant scored 17 points in the fourth quarter on his way to helping the Thunder tie the series at two games apiece. Durant tied his playoff career high of 41 points, but the fourth quarter is where he may have saved the future of Oklahoma City basketball.
He outscored the Spurs himself 17-16.
A minute into the fourth, Durant drove the lane and kicked out to Randy Foye for a three to cut the lead in half.
According to numberFire Live, that play increased Oklahoma City's chance to win by 8.22 percent.
Shortly after that, Durant nailed a mid-range jumper.
The next possession after the made three, Durant hit a tough shot in the face of the Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard. Durant finished up the quarter a perfect six for six from the field as the Thunder evened the series at two games each.
The Future in OKC
The future of Oklahoma City and Durant has been one of the most talked about stories in the NBA this year.
No one knows if Durant, who's a free agent after this season, will re-sign with the team or look elsewhere. One can guess that going deep in the playoffs would help his chances of staying, though.
After the game, Durant said that the crowd was "Probably the loudest I've ever heard them."
He has been the face of Thunder basketball for the entire existence of the franchise. Through all of the ups and downs, he has been right there at the forefront. Russell Westbrook has now taken some of the shine away from him, but the duo, together, leads one of the most dangerous teams in basketball.
Game 4 was obviously crucial in the series, but it may have played a larger role in the offseason. Steven Adams (22 years old) scored 16 with 11 rebounds, Enes Kanter (23 years old) had 11 and 8, and Dion Waiters (24 years old) had 17 huge points. The Thunder are still very young, and games like this show the massive potential in the youth of this team, not just Durant and Westbrook.
Durant may look back at this Game 4 when he is deciding between staying with or leaving a young team full of potential and a city that has embraced him.
If Oklahoma City can go on to beat San Antonio, it will likely make the decision even harder for Durant.
After the win, according to our projections, Oklahoma City has a 34.88 percent chance to advance to the Western Conference Finals. If they had lost, their odds of beating the Spurs would have sat at just 6.17 percent.