Oh no, how has this happened? The preseason favorites, the Brooklyn Nets led by Kevin Durant, have been swept off the floor in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. Most of the NBA world is shocked that such a talented team couldn't even put up a fight, along with the so-called "best player in the world" coming up smaller than ever, but those who have watched KD for the entirety of his career saw this movie happen already.
The Celtics opened the eyes
The Celtics have the #1 defense in the NBA for a reason. They are all on the same page, scrappy, long, and versatile, led by their coach Ime Udoka. The game plan versus KD was perfect. Just throwing bodies at him, making it hard to even get the ball, and roughing him up. We often hear how Durant is unguardable, but the Celtics completely dismissed that notion.
In Game 4, when already facing defeat and less pressure, Durant finally put up somewhat of a respectable performance with 39 points, 9 assists, and 7 assists, bad on some bad efficiency(13-31FG), as it wasn't even enough to get the gentleman's sweep.
The real reason Kevin Durant has been under fire and criticism is the first three games of the series, in which he reminded NBA fans he is not invincible. Shying away from the moment, being passive, turning the ball over, missing shots, and getting cooked by Tatum really left a bad taste on KD's performance. The numbers alone tell you a lot, but the eye test was even worse.
Kevin Durant in the first three games of the series versus the Celtics:
5.6 turnovers per game
This is not unusual
It seems like most of the NBA fans had forgotten about Kevin Durant before 2017 when he finally won his first championship with the Warriors—dominating on such a stacked team, winning two rings and two Finals MVPs masked all the failure in the ten years before that moment.
Although the return from the Achilles injury and last season's playoff run impressed everyone, it was a one-hit-wonder without too much pressure, considering he was playing by himself in the Bucks series. But when there are championship expectations on your head, with you being the #1 guy and not a cast of All-Stars ready to help you, the going gets a bit tougher.
As a Thunder fan, I have seen blunders from KD before. Although the early playoffs years with the Thunder and the lone Finals trip are admirable, considering his age and the team's state, everything that happened after that was a disappointment.
In 2013, Westbrook would get injured in the first round, and Durant couldn't carry a solid Thunder team past the Grizzlies, losing 4-1 in the second round. In his MVP season back in 2014, Durant couldn't get by the Spurs with a stacked Thunder team in the WCF.
And to cap it all off, blowing the 3-1 lead to the Warriors in the 2016 WCF, when you had the most impressive team, chemistry, and momentum on your side. KD went cold in those three games and eventually shrank under pressure, shying away from the big moment of closing the series. Instead, Westbrook had to be the man and try to will the team, ending up as the main villain in the story.
After that, KD pulled off the weakest move in NBA history by joining the same Warriors team he lost to, and the rest is history. Since then, he has been proclaimed a champion, one of the greatest scorers ever, and the best player in the world right now. How quickly we forget.
Durant tried to make it on his own and leave the shadow of Curry and the Warriors, but the fact of the matter is, he will never win on his own or without an All-Star starting lineup behind him. Outstanding talent and scorer, but not a winning basketball player unless put into the right position where he just has to pick up the pieces of the alphas on his team.