Kevin Durant, the star forward for the Brooklyn Nets, confessed Saturday night that he has been “thinking too much” throughout the first-round series against the Boston Celtics, which has contributed to his dismal performance.
Durant is shooting 36.5 percent (19-for-52) from the field in three consecutive losses to the Celtics after being restricted to 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in a 109-103 loss that dropped the Nets to 0-3 in the series. Durant has struggled to find a rhythm against Boston’s dogged defense.
“I was just thinking too much to be honest, this whole series,” Durant said. “Like how I approach the game. We got another game to play, another opportunity, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Durant has averaged just 22 points per game in the first three games of this series after averaging over 30 points per game in March and April. Throughout the series, the Celtics have made it a point to be physical with Durant, throwing body after body at him in an attempt to slow him down.
“I feel like the first two games I was trying to be too aggressive,” Durant said. “A team that’s loading up on me, that’s trying to take me out of all my actions. I felt like I was still trying to force the first two games and watching film, a lot of my teammates were open and they were knocking down shots, so I felt my approach to this game was to play off of everybody — get in the flow of the offense and let the ball move and find me.”
“They got more size than us,” Durant said, explaining why the Celtics have been so successful against him. After Saturday’s loss, he was contemplative, admitting that it wasn’t the first time in his career that he thought he was thinking too much on the court.
“Every team I’ve been on, you’re just trying to figure out the best way to play,” Durant said. “When you got good teammates around you as well, you’re trying to figure out, I try to figure out how I can be the best version of myself and also not getting in my teammates’ way. Sometimes I think too much about it. Sometimes I need to go out there and just [have] no thoughts in my head and just play.
“I feel like I prepared myself the right way. It’s a matter of the small decisions in the game that may not go in my favor. I thought I found my teammates better than I did the last two games. I just need to score more.”
After Game 3, Durant, Nets coach Steve Nash, and the rest of his teammates were left with questions they didn’t have answers to. “A little bit of everything,” Nash said of Durant’s problems.
“Clearly they’re loading up on him, sending bodies to him, being physical with him. … I think it’s the unforced turnovers,” Nash said. “I don’t think Kevin has to go off. We shot a good percentage, we moved the ball. It’s just the ones that we just gave up. Poor decision-making, not connecting, simple passes and they’re going the other way. That, to me, has been the difference in all three games.”
Durant has turned the ball over 12 times in the first three games of this series. The Nets have committed 48 fouls as a team. On Saturday, veteran forward Blake Griffin noted the Nets lacked “the correct spirit throughout the entire game.”
Nets guard Kyrie Irving stated, “I’m pretty confident K has had games in the past when he hasn’t performed as good as he wanted to.” “I’ve played games like that before. And that’s just in this basketball game. It’s all about the averages, man. And you guys know better than me, who is just watching from the stands, that these things can happen at any time throughout a game, especially if a player is coming in hot and then goes cold.”
Irving continued, ” “But this isn’t the time to sigh or waggle your fingers. All I have to do now is return home and put the bulletproof vest on.”
Durant has averaged 43 minutes per game in the first three games of this series, after playing 46 minutes in Saturday’s loss. He was adamant about not allowing the extra minutes to be used as an excuse for his bad performance.
Durant stated, “I don’t think tiredness kicked in.” “Playing is enjoyable for me. I’m not out of breath. My body is not in any discomfort. I wouldn’t put it down to that.”
Durant stated he could “maybe shoot more” if asked how he might find his flow. Durant won’t need any more motivation to be ready for Game 4 with the Nets just one game away from elimination.
“Man, we’ve figured it out,” Durant remarked. “At this time of year, I don’t think any speech or other form of expression will suffice. It’s as simple as that: we’re down 3-0. We’ll show up and play on Monday.”