The Phoenix Suns traded for Kevin Durant, who is arguably the best scorer of all time. They hope he will give him the push they need for their first-ever NBA championship.
Durant’s playoff debut in the Suns’ 115-110 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the first round Sunday night was very impressive. He had 27 points on 7-of-15 (46.6 percent) shooting with 11 assists and nine rebounds.
But there is an argument to be made that Durant did not get the ball as much as his status as arguably the NBA’s best player right now deserves.
Durant only took one shot in the final six minutes of the Suns’ loss, when the game was often within two possessions. Suns coach Monty Williams spoke about why that was the case after the team’s practice Monday at the Verizon 5G Performance Center in Phoenix.
“It’s needing to get him the ball in certain spots,” Williams said. “Them doing a good job of denying him the ball, but we can create some more environments for him to live freely, live-ball situations. And then sometimes, you can give him the ball so he can bring it up the floor and create opportunities.”
Durant was often doubled teamed by Los Angeles from behind, which forced him out of post shots around the block.
“They put the trap on me when I come off the ball,” Durant said after the game. “A lot of times, I was just facing there in the corner just waiting for it. And just provide space for my teammates. I think we got some good looks there in the fourth, we didn’t knock some down. You got to give credit to the Clippers.”
Durant managed to have 17 second-quarter points and 10 in the fourth but was held scoreless in the first and third quarters. He was held to 0-of-4 shooting in the first and did not score in that period for just the second time in his playoff career, according to Stathead.
Durant is the Suns’ best player and will need to have a big impact for the team to advance past the Clippers and perhaps compete for a championship. Even though he did not have a significant amount of shots — including just five in the second half — he said he was pleased with the Suns’ shot selection down the stretch.
“I’m good at spacing out and attacking off the catch,” Durant said. “I think like I said, I provide a lot of space for my teammates. We got good looks, we just didn’t knock them down.”
Phoenix faces Los Angeles in Game 2 of the first round of the NBA playoffs Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by TNT