There’s no “I” in team, but there’s “NET” in Kevin Durant.
On Tuesday night, when the Brooklyn Nets face Milwaukee for what will likely be the series decider, Durant will have to put the entire New York borough on his shoulders to win….and he will do just that. He will prevail. Other superstars have failed before him (Steph Curry couldn’t will his way past Memphis in the play-ins, and LeBron James couldn’t beat Phoenix without Anthony Davis) but Durant is built different.
You could say everything that he has gone through – the Russ breakup, the golden (state) years, the Achilles recovery and even the Twitter embarrassment has led him to this point in time. Game 5 will be the ultimate test from the basketball gods to see how good Durant is, and I think we all know the answer.
Durant has averaged 26.9 points, 5.6 assists, and 7.1 rebounds this season, but those numbers hardly tell his story. Durant’s path to greatness might be best explained in the New York Times’ feature article that waxed poetic of his natural shooting capabilities. Love him or hate him, Durant is one of those players that defines a generation, and when he comes up against the Bucks on Tuesday, you can bet he’ll leave his mark on the court and lead Brooklyn to victory.
Here are 3 reasons Durant will singlehandedly win Game 5.
3. Durant Gets it Done on Defense
Everyone knows Durant is superhumanly efficient when it comes to offense, but against the Bucks, he will need to shut a red-hot Giannis Antetokounmpo down. So far in the playoffs, he’s ranked fourth in blocks (1.8 per game) and records 8.2 rebounds per game. His tall frame and giant wingspan make him a natural force to be reckoned with, and it’s no wonder Steve Nash called Durant the Nets’ best defender. Even in a league full of some of the most acrobatic athletes in the world, Durant has unique physical gifts, and this postseason just goes to show he’s as good of an unguardable player as he is a guarding defender.
In Game 2 against Boston, Durant scored 26 points, recorded seven defensive rebounds, blocked four shots, and rose to the challenge of guarding Jayson Tatum. His experience playing with all-defensive teammates like Draymond Green and Klay Thompson has no doubt rubbed off and his hustle up and down the court and rim-protecting responsibilities was one of the biggest reasons the Nets were able to close out the Celtics.
Against the arguably more formidable Giannis, Durant can assume a similar role and use his defensive strengths to limit one of the highest-scoring teams in the league. What makes Durant’s role in defense extra special is his ability to short circuit the pick-and-roll. The Bucks would be hard-pressed to find mismatches to create against Durant, whose versatility allows him to defend on isolations or after he’s switched on a ball screen. Durant’s two-way talents will be key to beating Milwaukee on both sides of the court.