Saturday’s semifinals game 3 between the Thunder and the Grizzlies ended with an 87-81 victory for Memphis and another series loss for OKC. With a 2-1 series lead, the Griz are positioned to end the Thunder’s season earlier than expected. If OKC is knocked out of the playoffs in this series, is Durant proving that finishing second is his destiny?  

Before the Westbrook injury, OKC was expected to meet the Heat in the Finals, in a rematch of last year’s championship where Durant would finally prove to be better than LeBron James. He was destined to earn the right to no longer finish second behind the 4-time MVP.

In April, Durant told Sports Illustrated that this season would be different. This season he was determined to escape a life of second place best and finish first.

“I’ve been second my whole life,” said Durant. “I was the second best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it.”

Trailing in the series, it appears that Durant is settling for second place, again. The Thunder struggled offensively in games 2 and 3 of the series, and they barely escaped a game 1 loss. In Saturday’s game 3, the Thunder shot only 36 percent from the field, and 28 percent from deep. Durant finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists.

“We can’t hang our heads,” Durant said, in response to the game 3 loss. “We can’t cry about losing. We have to embrace the challenge and learn from it.”

This is game 3 of the semifinals, not game 3 of the regular season. The mistakes the Thunder made could have been avoided if the Thunder learned from them earlier in the season.

Durant can’t win a ring without reliable back-up. Reggie Jackson isn’t Westbrook, Kevin Martin’s shooting is inconsistent, and Serge Ibaka is getting more attention for missing dunks and layups than scoring and rebounds. The shrinking talent of the Thunder is forcing Durant to carry a load he can’t hold.

“We can’t stop Kevin Durant,” said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. “He’s a great player. But he played 45/46 minutes, and he has to carry a huge load for them. And, as the game wears on, other people for them have to start taking the load away from him a little bit.”

OKC is no longer a threat to LeBron obtaining a second ring, their 60 season wins were pointless, and Durant will have to settle for less than second place this time.