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Kevin Durant Deserves No Blame for Nets’ Second-Round Exit

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Kevin Durant had one of the greatest individual performances in basketball history. However, certain people are still saying that Durant could have done more.

After putting forth one of the greatest individual performances in basketball history, certain people are saying that Kevin Durant spit the bit against the Milwaukee Bucks by going 0-6 in overtime and scoring zero points in the whole period: to those people, I say get a grip.

At times, KD seemed like he was the only player trying to win the game for Brooklyn. Head Coach Steve Nash did not help at all, playing him nearly 43 minutes per game and for all 53 in the Game Seven overtime thriller, while James Harden followed precedent and performed horribly in a closeout game.

Durant not only scored the most points ever in a Game Seven (48), he became the first man to go for 45, 15, and 10 in Game Five with a 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist performance, and averaged 35.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and 5.4 APG for the series.

To say that he was anything less than extraordinary would not be doing him justice.

The notion that Durant could somehow have done more to win the game is absurd, just the same way it was absurd that LeBron James was criticized for only scoring two of his 51 points in overtime of Game One in the 2018 Finals. 

Was Durant Alone?

Both of Durant’s co-stars were injured during the series; Kyrie Irving did not return after an early exit in Game Four, and James Harden was extremely limited on both ends of the floor. Harden averaged 14.3 points and shot 19.2% from three after returning from his hamstring ailment, and was clearly unfit to play.

A healthy member of the roster that drastically underperformed is Joe Harris, a former three-point shootout champion and the league’s most accurate deadeye. Harris was 5-20 from range in the final three games of the series, missing his season average by 22.5%.

Jeff Green was also inexplicably limited to 13 minutes in Game Seven after playing 36.5 average minutes in Games Five and Six, the former of which resulted in a 27-point outing for the savvy veteran. Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s primary defender, fouled out and could have used a spell on the bench to avoid disqualification from the contest.

Kevin Durant led the Nets in total scoring, rebounding, assisting, steals and blocks amongst qualified players during the playoffs. This is not only far from his fault, it was the greatest that we have ever seen him play.

Durant told reporters that the turnaround shot to extend Game Seven to overtime was not the best shot of his career, and he is probably right— the Game Three dagger in LeBron’s face during his first year with Golden State was the most emphatic, though the most difficult shot that he ever hit was a corner three he shot while falling out of bounds and trailing in the fourth quarter that turned into a four-point play.

Although there may not have been a career-defining moment for KD this postseason, his Game Five performance was, perhaps, the best playoff game played in the 2000s.

Durant proved that he could carry a team as a solo act, a question that had not been answered throughout his career. He did everything asked of him and cemented himself as the best player in basketball right now.

Brooklyn let their superstar down— he deserves no blame for the loss, and there should be no disagreement. 

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Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.

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