Kevin Durant struggled at the end of the Golden State Warriors series against the Houston Rockets, and was pretty poor in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. I was harsh on him for not playing up to his usual standards, trying to do too much on offense and not putting in enough effort on defense and rebounding.
In Game 2, KD answered the call in a big way.
The box score statistics are barely different—he again scored 26 points, corralled 9 rebounds, and increased his assists from 6 to 7—but he was truly a totally different player on Sunday, and helped change the complexion of the series.
First, he chose his spots much more carefully: his 26 points came on 14 attempts instead of 22. Sometimes, he just hit the ISO jumpers that he’d been missing lately.
He rarely held on to the ball for long, and kept everything moving quickly, playing within the rhythm of his teammates. He attacked the basket early in the shot clock, and passed the ball well when help arrived. Very little of it was forced, and it finally felt like he fit in the Warriors’ offense.
Defensively, he battled through screens and bodied up LeBron James. Although LeBron still was able to score, he tired much more this game, and turned to his skills as a distributor. Luckily for the Warriors, although his passing is amazing, LeBron’s teammates simply didn’t make enough shots.
Durant also displayed more effort on rebounds, boxing out better and coming back from the perimeter to secure boards. All in all, he played with effort and poise that has been mysteriously lacking as of late.
There will be a time in this series where KD will have to do more, and become that go-to scorer for the Warriors. But for Game 2, this adjustment was much needed. The flow of the offense couldn’t be better, and the Warriors look like the Warriors again.