Kevin Durant scored 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting in the Warriors’ critical Game 3 win over the Cavaliers on Thursday. It marked the sixth time Durant reached the 30-point mark in eight NBA Finals games, dating back to his first trip in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder
Through three games this series, the former league MVP is averaging 34 points. That’s more than LeBron James, the best player on the underdog team who’s averaging 32 in the Finals after a 39-point Game 3 lifted his numbers.
Durant eclipsed the 30-point mark in Game 3 in storybook fashion. He rose to the occasion when the Warriors needed him most, dribbling up court and drilling a pull-up three over James to give Golden State what became an insurmountable lead late in the fourth quarter.
What’s more impressive is how quickly Durant has reached his sixth 30-point game when compared against NBA history.
Only Rick Barry was faster, posting six 30-point Finals games in as many outings. KD hit the mark faster than guys like Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was almost twice as quick to the mark as Hakeem Olajuwon, and it took Kobe Bryant 14 more Finals games to reach 30 points (though he played the majority of those alongside Shaq).
Durant also reached his sixth 30-point Finals game in a third of the amount of games it took LeBron.
Durant is also averaging 34 points in the Finals on all-world efficiency.
The likely Finals MVP is shooting 56 percent from the field, 52 percent from three, and 89.5 percent from the foul line. No one in NBA history is even close.
If Durant closes out the series with similar shooting numbers, he’ll become the first player in NBA Finals history to average at least 20 points and shoot 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from three, and at least 89 percent from the foul line.
Magic Johnson hit Durant’s mark with the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers in the 1966-67 season, but he only attempted two three-pointers the entire six-game series. In fact, the only players to truly come near Durant’s mark were:
- Michael Jordan in 1992: 35.8 points, 53% from the field, 42.9% from three, and 89.1% from the line
- Chauncey Billups in 2004: 21 points, 51% from the field, 47.1% from three, 92.9% from the line
- Ray Allen in 2008: 20.3 points, 51% from the field, 52% from three, 87% from the line
- Penny Hardaway (swept by Rockets) in 1995: 25.5 points, 50% from the field, 45.8% from three, 91.3% from the line
Durant is putting up better numbers at an unheard of shooting percentage on the grandest stage of them all. Now with a championship in his grasp as the likely Finals MVP, he’s cementing his place among the league’s all-time greats.
That legacy officially begins if the Warriors seal the deal on Friday, and if Durant has another 30-point game, it’ll be hard to envision an alternate ending.