May 19, 2024

The Impact of Kevin Durant in the playoffs

The Golden State Warriors were already dominant last year before acquiring Durant, but what does his presence mean for them in the playoffs this year?

After breaking the NBA record for wins in a season last year, going 73-9, the Warriors capped off the 2017 regular season with a remarkable 67-15 record. Golden State essentially has the exact same team from their Finals team last year, but this time they added a crucial piece to the puzzle: Kevin Durant.

Durant took the Warriors already stacked roster to the next level. Durant hopped right in the Golden State lineup and fit in perfectly, finishing 2017 as the Warriors second leading scorer at 25.1 points per game. Although this is his lowest points per game total since his rookie year, it is still impressive considering Golden State has three other superstars on the team. Durant did however post his highest rebounds per game total in his career this season with 8.3.

Durant missed 19 games this season due to an MCL sprain and the Warriors did not miss a beat in his absence, but this does not mean he is not crucial to their success in the playoffs. Durant still came back in time for the final three games of the season. He finished with a double-double in his first two games, combining for 32 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists. However, Durant returned to his true form in the final game of the season this week against the Los Angeles Lakers. Durant put up 28 points, his most since Feb. 11, as well as eighg rebounds and five assists.

If Durant is able to put up these numbers consistently through the playoffs along with help from Stephen Curry and the rest of the loaded Warriors team, they will almost certainly dominate. With Durant at full strength, it is hard to believe that Golden State will not make a third straight trip to the finals. Without KD, the Warriors are still one of the biggest threats in the playoffs, but with Durant, they are the clear front-runner.

Golden State before Durant’s injury were leading the league in points scored per game with 114 points per game. Without KD on the floor the, Warriors fell to seventh in the league in scoring with 111 points per game. As the strength of the defense increases in the playoffs, having a pure scorer like Durant along with Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor is nearly unstoppable. Teams may be able to stop one or teo of them, but not all 3 of the talented scorers.

Durant and the Warriors face off against the Trailblazers in Oakland on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on ABC.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

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