In a thrilling Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Clippers secured a narrow 115-110 victory. The win can be attributed to their ability to dominate around the margins – from offensive rebounds to critical bench contributions. However, one undeniable factor that played a significant role in the game was the performance of Suns’ superstar, Kevin Durant.
Durant’s Disappearing Act
During Game 1, Kevin Durant’s performance was a rollercoaster ride. He didn’t score a single point in the first quarter, exploded for 17 points in the second, and mysteriously went scoreless again in the third. Surprisingly, a much-anticipated fourth-quarter onslaught never materialized. His 17-foot jumper with 6 minutes and 50 seconds to play in the final quarter pushed Phoenix ahead, but he only attempted one more shot for the rest of the game, finishing with 15 attempts in total – the third most on his team, trailing Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Suns coach Monty Williams acknowledged the challenges, stating, "That’s needing to get him the ball in certain spots [and] them doing a good job of denying him the ball," hinting at the Clippers’ effective defense against Durant. He also suggested, "We can create more environments for him to live freely in live-ball situations. Sometimes giving him the ball so he can bring it up the floor and create opportunities."
Coach Tyronn Lue’s Expectations
Anticipating Game 2, Clippers’ head coach Tyronn Lue expressed his expectations, saying he wants Kevin Durant to be "more aggressive." This statement underscores the need for Durant to take charge and play a more dominant role in the upcoming game.
Before Game 1, Lue downplayed concerns about the Suns’ lack of continuity, as they had only played eight games with Durant since acquiring him via a trade in February. However, he acknowledged on Monday that "it’s new to them," and they have only played together for nine games. This suggests that developing chemistry and maximizing Durant’s impact might take some time.
The Clippers’ defensive strategy in Game 1 involved a combination of defenders on Durant. Kawhi Leonard guarded Durant on a team-high 29 possessions, where Durant made four of his five shots. In all other instances, the Clippers relied on a rotation of Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook, and Nicolas Batum to challenge Durant. Notably, Durant’s efficiency dipped when facing this rotation, shooting one for six combined against these players.
Eric Gordon, reflecting on their strategy, stated, "We’re going to be interchangeable, so you’ve got to be ready." The Clippers’ adaptability in defense suggests their readiness to confront a more aggressive Durant in Game 2.
The Upcoming Clash
As Game 2 approaches, it’s clear that both teams have areas to refine and adapt to. While the Clippers look to maintain their solid defensive performance against Durant, the Suns will aim to create more opportunities for their star player.
Coach Williams admitted, "We didn’t play the kind of basketball we’re accustomed to," attributing it in part to the Clippers’ effective defense.
In the midst of this excitement, the NBA’s league office initiated a review of an incident between Russell Westbrook and a Suns fan who exchanged words during halftime of Game 1, adding an extra layer of intrigue to this highly anticipated series.
The basketball world eagerly awaits Game 2, where the Clippers expect Kevin Durant to be more aggressive, and fans will be on the edge of their seats, watching every move in this intense showdown.
Intriguing Tidbits to Pique Your Interest
How is Kevin Durant so good at shooting?
Kevin Durant’s remarkable shooting prowess extends beyond his exceptional free-throw accuracy. His unique advantage lies in his extraordinary physical attributes, particularly his impressive 7’5" wingspan. This remarkable length enables Durant to release jumpers that are nearly impossible to block, and he has the ability to make seemingly impossible shots around the rim. His combination of skill and physicality allows him to consistently excel in shooting, making him one of the most formidable offensive forces in the game.
Why is Kevin Durant so good at basketball?
Kevin Durant’s basketball excellence can be attributed to a combination of exceptional qualities. His pure shooting talent is unparalleled; he effortlessly sinks contested mid-range and three-point jump shots, owing to his innate shooting prowess and remarkable efficiency. Furthermore, Durant’s ball-handling skills are elite for a small forward, with only LeBron James matching his level of proficiency. These attributes make him a standout in the world of basketball.
Why is Kevin Durant so popular?
Kevin Durant’s popularity stems from his remarkable achievements in the world of basketball. As an American professional basketball player, Durant secured the prestigious 2013–14 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, a significant milestone that established him as one of the premier players of his generation, all while still in his early 20s.
What is Kevin Durant’s style of play?
Kevin Durant, a small forward, showcases a distinctive style of play characterized by his remarkable athletic abilities and exceptional skill set. Notably, Durant is known for possessing one of the most formidable crossover dribbles in contemporary basketball. His signature move, a hesitation pull-up jumper, has become his trademark, enabling him to score efficiently from nearly any spot on the court.
Is KD a better scorer than LeBron?
When comparing Kevin Durant’s scoring prowess to LeBron James, a key aspect to consider is scoring efficiency. Durant has clinched the NBA scoring title for two consecutive seasons, prompting some of his fans to assert his superiority in scoring. In the last season, Durant indeed averaged more points than James, with 27.7 points compared to James’ 26.7. However, it’s worth noting that James boasted a higher shooting percentage, shooting at an impressive 51 percent, while Durant’s field goal percentage stood at 46 percent.
Is Kevin Durant the best mid range shooter ever?
When discussing midrange shooting, the addition of Kevin Durant to the Suns’ roster elevates them to a formidable force in this aspect of the game. Durant’s reputation as one of the most lethal shooters in league history is well-deserved, and his performance in the midrange during the 2022-23 season is exceptional. In this season, Durant has maintained an impressive 57.1 percent accuracy on midrange shot attempts, solidifying his status as one of the best midrange shooters in the game.