You might have already heard this, but just in case news of the biggest comeback in NBA playoffs history didn’t reach you: the Golden State Warriors had a rough night on Monday.
The overwhelming favorites to win a third straight NBA championship held a 31-point lead at on point against a Clippers team that was literally given 100-to-1 to beat them in the first round, and then the Warriors lost 135-131 to even the series at 1-1.
At the center of that humiliating loss was Kevin Durant’s struggles against the Clippers defense and one Patrick Beverley, who achieved minor viral fame by forcing last year’s Finals MVP to cough up nine turnovers and foul out.
The loss, as well as DeMarcus Cousins’ injury, created some whispers of the Warriors finally being vulnerable, but Durant seems to have a pretty good idea of how the Clippers pulled it off on the defensive end.
Kevin Durant explains how the Clippers are guarding him
Speaking to media on Wednesday, Durant was asked to breakdown the Warriors’ loss. He went into some pretty strong detail, caught on video by The Athletic’s Anthony Slater:
Kevin Durant goes extremely in depth on the Clippers style of defense, the overhelp, why he won’t get caught up in a 1-on-1 battle with Patrick Beverley pic.twitter.com/nOdmTDY4yi
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 17, 2019
A transcript of Durant’s first answer:
We had a nice flow of the game. Let’s go back to the whole last month of the season, we’ve been playing this way for a while. When we got into this series, Game 1, we had some nice momentum. They’re playing a gimmick defense, which has been working. Top blocking everything on the perimeter, so guys aren’t even looking at the three-point line, just forcing guys inside the three-point line.
So for us, when I get the ball in my spots, I’ve got to pass Patrick Beverley, who’s up underneath me, or I could definitely shoot over top and score every time if it’s a 1-on-1 situation. But we’ve got a guy that’s dropping and helping, then we’ve got another guy that’s just sitting on me waiting for me to dribble the basketball.
If I put the basketball on the floor, I can probably make 43 percent of my shots if I shoot them like that, but that’s not really going to do nothing for us with the outcome of the game, because we’ve got a nice flow, everybody’s touching the rock, everybody’s shooting and scoring. I’m not going to get in the way of the game because I want to have a little back-and-forth with Patrick Beverley. I’m Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am.
As Durant explains it, the Clippers have aggressively engaged the Warriors at the 3-point line and forced them to take the ball inside, where Los Angeles is also playing quick help defense on Durant. As far as defending the Warriors — the team that employs Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson — goes, taking away the 3-pointer is a pretty important step 1, so that makes sense.
Of course, Monday definitely wasn’t the first time defenses have keyed in on Durant, and the Warriors superstar has still found a way to average 27 points per game in his career. To explain what happened in particular against Beverley, a 6-foot-1 guard, Durant mentioned the game’s officiating:
I’ve been playing against every defense. It’s not just that type, but the constant help on my drives, the poking at the ball as I’m dribbling. Two guys rushing me as I’m beating someone off the dribble. That’s how I learned how to pass the ball and be a little more patient before the catch. I’ve got to set up shop sometimes and clear out space so I can get stuff going.
In this series, it’s kind of weird because when a guy is that small, you’ve got the advantage, but we did David and Goliath a lot growing up, so that story is pretty much prominent in people’s minds. So when you put that out there on the court against me, then the refs are going to want to give him a little bit more. So when he run up on me like a pit bull, grab me, hold me, I don’t mind it. That’s how he makes his money. That’s how he feeds his family. But if I throw something back, let us play. You get what I’m saying? I got four or five offensive fouls like that. I’m just trying to figure out each possession how I can be effective without getting offensive fouls.
For reference, four of Durant’s six fouls were of the offensive variety on Monday, and two occurred in the final three minutes of the game as the Clippers completed their charge. Durant wasn’t much calmer during Game 1, when he got ejected for a confrontation with Beverley.
We can only wonder how the Warriors will adjust for Game 3 on Thursday.
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