Oklahoma City Thunder

2013 NBA Playoffs: Oklahoma City Needs the Real K-Mart

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 24:  Kevin Martin #23 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates after hitting a three point shot against the Houston Rockets during fourth quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on April 24, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Thunder defeated the Rockets 105-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Casey WomackCorrespondent IApril 29, 2013

Just 72 hours ago, Oklahoma City Thunder fans' dream of getting back to the NBA Finals was alive and well. 

The Thunder gained an impressive, gritty win over the Rockets and took the series lead to 2-0. Russell Westbrook came out in the postgame press conference continuing his unique playoff outfits and every Thunder fan went to sleep with the assumption that this squad was going to walk back into the Western Conference finals.

Then Patrick Beverley happened.

With Beverley diving into Westbrook's right knee attempting a steal right before a timeout, Oklahoma City would soon learn about something that it had been fortunate enough to avoid over the past few years: injuries.

Now that Westbrook is out for the rest of the playoffs with a torn meniscus, a dream that seemed destined to come true seems a little foggier now.

For the Thunder to get past the second round, let alone the Western Conference finals, somebody else has to step up. Even though Oklahoma City has the second-best player in the world, Kevin Durant can't do it on his own.

The success of this year's playoffs falls on the back of Kevin Martin.

Since Martin was traded to Oklahoma City before the season in exchange for James Harden, he has quietly had an efficient season coming off the bench. He is shooting a career best from beyond the arc and has been outstanding from the free-throw line.

However, he hasn't had a single "wow" moment this season aside from his funky shooting release. I haven't once stopped what I was doing this season and thought, "Holy crap, this guy is good." 

Martin had a great start to the season. He put up efficient numbers, being a near-guarantee from the line, and even played decent defense. But you have to do more than quietly put up 12-15 points when you're the No. 1 option off the bench in the playoffs.

And now with Westbrook out, Martin is the only player besides Durant that can really create his own shot. 

However, Martin has been a concern as of late. He has hesitated when he gets an open look and his defense has been an issue. For the past 20 games or so, Martin has passed on a handful of clear opportunities from beyond the arc to try and drive for a contested, one-handed shot.

From a fan standpoint, Martin looks like he has lost a little bit of confidence. He may be a veteran, but this is still his first playoff appearance in seven years.

Oklahoma City has Serge Ibaka, who proved Saturday night that he is capable of knocking down mid-range shots and snagging tough rebounds without Westbrook feeding him the ball or getting in his face to fire him up.

The Thunder still need a third fearless scorer, though.

We all know Martin has the ability to get hot and put up 30 points on any given night. Maybe he just needs to watch a few YouTube tribute videos of him to remember what he is capable of. 

Durant needs him to as soon as possible. 

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