In just under 12 minutes, Kevin Durant scored 11 points against the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. But in the blink of an eye and the snap of an Achilles, Durant's season and his Warriors career came to an end.
This was Durant's first game back from a strained right calf, the same leg he eventually ruptured his Achilles. He injured his calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. Before his calf injury, however, Durant was dominating in the playoffs.
The former NBA MVP was averaging 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game in 11 playoffs games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Rockets. He was shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from 3-point range. When Durant went down against the Raptors, he felt he was at his peak as a basketball player.
"I was playing the best basketball in my life, and I felt like I was just in a great place mentally and physically," Durant said to WNBA stars Breanna Stewart and Kelsey Plum on the latest episode of "Stewie's World."
New #StewiesWorld out now🚨🏀🌎— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) August 25, 2020
All at different stages of their Achilles recovery, @breannastewart is joined by @KDTrey5 and @KelseyPlum10 to discuss the physical & mental challenges on the road back to basketball
🎙: https://t.co/Oplcsqrwnp pic.twitter.com/TTLjtRAzWn
The next few days brought Durant a myriad of emotions, and taught him a ton about his own body.
"When it happened, it's just like a bunch of emotions came through my mind at once," Durant explained. "The one thing that stood out to me over the next few days, it was just like, I put so much time and effort into the game and maybe this right here is meant for me to slow down or relax. We go hard every single day as professional athletes. Our whole days, whole years are centered around the game. Sometimes we may go too hard.
"I felt like I did, from working out to playing games to not wanting to come out of games. I felt like all of that kind of just added up."
Durant averaged 34.6 minutes per game in the regular season for the Warriors in 2018-19. In the playoffs, that ramped up to 39.1 before his injury against the Rockets.
In the end, Durant believes he learned a key lesson from his devastating injury.
"There's always a lesson out of everything, I feel like," Durant said. "As a professional, you start to understand what your body is saying. It's good to gain that knowledge, but it was tough to go through that grueling process of trying to get back."
Durant now is with the Brooklyn Nets, but his time as a Warriors never will be forgotten, especially his brilliance in the playoffs.
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Kevin Durant believes he was playing his best basketball before injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area