Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder were bounced out of the 2013 NBA Playoffs in the second round by the Memphis Grizzlies. The season came to a disappointing end considering the Thunder had championship aspirations.
The Thunder rolled through the regular season, garnering the number-two seed in the Western Conference. What the Thunder couldn’t foresee was a season-ending injury to star point guard Russell Westbrook in their first-round playoff series. The injury left a gaping hole in the Thunder backcourt that ultimately led to the team’s early exit in the playoffs.
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was free to roam around the court without the athletic Westbrook chasing him around. Young backup point guard Reggie Jackson was simply no match for the crafty Conley. Guard Derek Fisher provided some offensive spark off the bench, but he was also outplayed by Conley.
The Thunder frontcourt also had massive problems with the Grizzlies big men down low. Memphis players Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol both enjoyed successful games against OKC.
Kevin Durant was asked to lead the team and try to close the gap. His efforts were valiant but ultimately futile. Durant seemed exhausted after the five-game series and just couldn’t muster up the magic after a Game 1 victory. Durant did a great job of scoring and keeping his teammates involved but Memphis was simply the better team. There is no need to shoulder any blame on Kevin Durant. His effort was heartfelt; he just had little help.
The Thunder will now head into the off-season awaiting the return of Westbrook and looking to build more team chemistry.
Jamaal Smith is an Oklahoma City Thunder writer for RantSports.com.