Kevin Durant is not human. Okay, he may be human, but he is performing like he is the best human at throwing a ball through a hoop on the planet over the last couple of weeks. After eight consecutive games of scoring 30 points or more, Kevin Durant heads into San Antonio tonight to further prove that he is deserving of this year’s Most Valuable Player.
Last night, after an awe-inspiring 17-25 shooting for 46 points, Kevin Durant single-handedly took down the surprise Western Conference powerhouse Portland Trailblazers. This may seem like good news (keyword: may) if you are a rather optimistic Spurs fan due to the back-to-back matchup. Think again. Less than one week ago the Thunder took on a traveling back-to-back matchup between the Rockets and Warriors. Durant combined to score 90 points in two days, the second of which being his single game career high of 54.
So there goes that optimism.
The fact of the matter is that Durant is on a complete tear. In his last four games, he is averaging 41.5 points on 60% shooting, adding another 57% from deep. Not even defensive-minded Nicolas Batum, a lanky, 6’8″ forward, for the Trailblazers could slow him down last night. If you think that Kawhi Leonard can step up with less experience and length tonight, then I commend your utter confidence in your team. I’m just not buying it.
The key to stopping Durant may lie in complete confusion. Whether it be some secret Popovich-ian Jedi mind tricks that have yet to be unleashed on an unsuspecting opponent, or a quick call to Mister Swackhammer to call on the aid of the Monstars, I’m not sure anything will work against Durant at this point in time.
One silver lining that surrounds this ominous cloud approaching San Antonio from the north is the absence of Russell Westbrook.
Even as Durant has been able to put up ungodly numbers in the last two weeks, the games that they have won have been by no means blowouts. In fact, the Thunder have lost three of the games in this time frame. Without Westbrook controlling the point, there really isn’t much other of an option on the offensive end other than Durant. In the three losses, Durant still put up 48, 30, and 37, but without much other help, the Thunder came up short against three rather mediocre teams in Utah, Denver, and Memphis.
So here lies the solution: do nothing special with Durant. Just let him score. Of course, “let him score” is taken with a pinch of salt in this context, but you know what I mean. Don’t give him easy shots, make him make the pull-up 3 over two defenders (yes, this is a shot he has consistently made), but don’t let only Durant beat you. If the Spurs keep the game close and shut down the other options of Jeremy Lamp and Serge Ibaka, they just might be able to pull out a big win despite another huge performance by Kevin Durant.
In the meantime, marvel at the beauty of a Durant takeover. It really is a sight to see.