Stephen A. Smith rips Kevin Durant for 'tragic' performance vs. Celtics in Game 2

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Stephen A. Smith rips Durant for 'tragic' performance vs. Celtics in Game 2 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Kevin Durant is receiving a ton of criticism, and rightfully so, for his underwhelming performances in the first two games of the Brooklyn Nets' first-round NBA playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

The superstar forward scored 24 points on 9-for-24 shooting with six turnovers in a Game 1 loss. He also got caught ball watching on Jayson Tatum's buzzer-beating layup in the series opener.

Game 2 was even worse for Durant. He did score 27 points, but 18 came at the free throw line. He shot 4-for-17 from the field Wednesday night and missed all 10 of his second-half attempts. He had another six turnovers and just looked totally out of sorts on offense.

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The Celtics' strong second half powered them to a 114-107 win and a 2-0 series lead.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith did not hold back Thursday morning on "First Take" when describing what he's seen from Durant in this series so far.

"You can't look at him as the best player in the world, which is what I've been saying for quite a while," Smith admitted. "This is a tragic performance by him in these first two games. We can talk about Boston's defense, and they deserve a boatload of credit. Boston's defense is sensational. I know that. I'm not going to go where Kendrick Perkins went the other day (saying KD got 'punked' in Game 1). I'm not going there. It's impossible for me to feel that way about him.

"But my God, I have never seen Kevin Durant look this bad. It's not about the performance. It's not about the fact that he's 4-for-17 overall. To some degree, it's about the fact he's 0-for-10 in the second half. To another degree, it's about the fact that he looked shook. He looked rattled. I never thought I'd see something happen like that to Kevin Durant on the offensive side of the ball. Some nights are better than others, but we've never looked at Kevin Durant and said my God he looks awful. He looks like he can't get anything going. There's nothing that's working."

It's hard to argue with what Smith said here.

Durant absolutely looks rattled. Some if it might be fatigue. Durant was consistently playing 40 to 42 minutes per game at the end of the regular season as the Nets tried to secure a berth into the play-in tournament. But tired or not, there's no excuse for him to play this poorly, especially on offense.

Durant has settled for way too many long 2s. He needs to be more aggressive and attack the basket.

The Nets cannot win this series unless Durant takes a major step forward offensively. Brooklyn doesn't have the depth to overcome these bad performances. It's on Durant to step up or the Nets will be on summer vacation next week.

Note: Games 3-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App.