A day after he sobbed throughout a heartfelt acceptance speech regarding his first NBA most valuable player award, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant may have to fight the urge to get teary again.
Durant is expected to hoist his MVP trophy inside Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday before Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Clippers in a scene that could give the Thunder a needed emotional jolt after getting blown out in the series opener.
Durant’s teammates were already buzzing in anticipation of a possible carryover effect from his poignant speech Tuesday in which he relayed touching anecdotes about each player.
“When things like that happen for somebody, a teammate that you love and that you want to see do great,” Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said Wednesday after his team’s shoot-around, “it definitely fuels you to be better as a team and to help him to do great as well.
“I was just happy to hear some of the things he thought about the other guys on our team and how much they meant to him and the little things guys have done for him to make him feel the way he felt.”
Durant’s speech has triggered an outpouring of support for the normally stoic player.
“Aw, man. I didn’t think it would be that big, I guess,” Durant said. “I was just speaking from the heart, man. It was a good time to do it.”
How does the Thunder take that moment and use it against the Clippers?
“Just enjoy playing basketball,” Durant said. “We’re down 0-1 on our home floor. Just embrace it even though it’s not the position we want to be in. We’ve got to go out there and fight and fight to the end.”
Oklahoma City’s biggest adjustments need to come on defense after allowing 122 points in Game 1 while struggling to contain Clippers playmaker Chris Paul, who made 12 of 14 shots.
“Our defense has to be on point,” Durant said. “So we learned a valuable lesson last game and we have to try to eliminate those tough stretches on the defensive end and push down on D. We’ve got to do a better job.”