At the mere mention of Kevin Durant’s name following the Bucks’ 117-114 win over the Nets on Sunday, all Jrue Holiday — one of the NBA’s best defenders and someone Durant once called the NBA’s best defender — could do was shake his head and shrug his shoulders. Durant had put up 42 points on the Bucks on 33 shots, including a career-high 7 3-pointers on 13 attempts.
“I mean, honestly, you just gotta do what you can,” Holiday said.
Capable of hitting a shot from anywhere on the court with the height and length to get a shot off against just about anyone, Durant is a prodigious scorer, and he showed off his full capabilities in the Bucks’ two-game set against the Nets. After a 42-point performance on Sunday, Durant put up 32 points on 22 shots on Tuesday, but the Bucks pulled out a 124-118 victory to take the season series from the Nets. Even with those victories, the Bucks know they will still likely need to beat the Nets to get to the NBA Finals and might even need to do so in the second round. Beating the Nets will become an even tougher proposition when 2017-18 NBA MVP James Harden returns from injury, but without Harden on the floor in their two-game set, the Bucks got an in-depth look at Durant and seem to understand exactly what they’ll be going up against in the postseason.
Giannis Antetokounmpo did not shy away from telling reporters how he truly felt about Durant, a player he has always idolized.
“He’s been one of the greatest scorers to ever play this game,” Antetokounmpo said. “What he does is unbelievable. Being 6-11, being able to shoot over everybody. The way he can handle the ball and get to his spot is unbelievable — one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life.”
With those words in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Bucks’ defensive work against Durant in their two-game set.