2. Durant’s Current Form is Unbeatable
As much as we wanted it to happen, the dream of the Nets’ Big 3 steamrolling its way to the Finals is over. With Harden and Irving out, Durant stands out as the lone superstar – but thank goodness it’s him. To give credit to the rest of Brooklyn, Joe Harris, Blake Griffin, and Mike James have all been diligently doing their part, but as of late, Durant is the exploding supernova who outshines everyone else. He’s been a jaw-dropping, table-slapping, holy crap-uttering sensation in the playoffs with record setting numbers through the first seven games: he’s shot 55 percent from the field, 50 percent from three, and 91.1 percent at the line.
Those who worry about Durant lacking offensive backup needn’t worry. The Nets haven’t been playing with their Big 3 for very long, so it’s not like Game 5 will be completely new territory for Durant. The three-man lineup of Durant, Irving and Harden has played just eight games together and has been on the court for only 5.8 percent of the Nets’ regular-season minutes. The only novel thing is the Nets’ opponents, the Bucks, who are getting better at defending Durant.
Durant didn’t exude his masterclass form in Game 4 when Irving got injured, shooting 36 percent from the field and 1-for-8 from 3-point range, and his drop in production mostly stems from the Bucks’ P.J. Tucker slowing him down. When the Bucks stuck him on Durant, Durant scored just nine points and drained 25 percent of his shots. Yet the odds of Tucker having another elite defending performance are low, and at the end of the day, Durant’s size and mobility can outlast Tucker’s dog-hounding. Once Durant gets into his shooting groove – and he will – there’s no one on the Bucks who can guard him.