There was a moment in overtime in Game 6 against the Spurs where Kevin Durant leaned over, grabbed at his shorts and desperately tried to find air. He was visibly exhausted, having only had one minute of rest in a must-win situation.
Not long after, Durant had a decently clean look from 3 with 16 seconds left, a chance to tie the game and breath a little life back into the Thunder. His jumper came up short, and so did the Thunder’s season. Durant doubled back over, and was left to think about an overtime in which he didn’t score. He missed all three of his shots, a jumper and two 3s, and spent most of the five minutes letting Kawhi Leonard deny him the ball without much resistance. He looked tired. He looked worn.
Minute management is a pretty hot topic right now, with the way the Spurs have diced the Heat up with ease, looking like the fresher, springier group despite playing with a bunch of old dudes. Not a single Spur played more than 30 minutes a game this season as Gregg Popovich masterfully handled the workload of his team. He minded back-to-backs, he sacrificed individual games for the greater good, and trusted in his bench not only to carry the slack, but also expected them to be better for the extra minutes they got.