Kevin Durant didn’t quite look like Kevin Durant in the Nets’ 117-99 loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night.
Durant, who entered the contest averaging 29.6 points per game on 58.6 percent shooting from the field and 42.4 percent shooting from 3-point range, was held to a season-low 19 points on 6-for-19 shooting from the field (31.6 percent) in 32 minutes of action.
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The third quarter was notably uncharacteristic for Durant, who went 0 of 8 from the field (including 0 of 4 from deep) and committed three turnovers. The Nets were outscored 35-18 in the frame.
Making life difficult for Durant is a task best executed as a team, but standing at the forefront of the Warriors’ overall effort to limit Durant was former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green.
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“You can’t do a better job defensively than what Draymond did tonight,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after the game.
Kerr added that Green’s defense was the “main thing” that kept Durant in check and allowed the Warriors to extend their lead to 20-plus points.
“In that third-quarter performance, Draymond was with him everywhere he went,” Kerr said. “You can’t possibly do a better job than what Draymond did.”
The matchup data on NBA.com is far from perfect, but it does paint a picture of the defensive job that Green was able to do on his former teammate. According to Tuesday night’s matchup stats, Green guarded Durant for nearly seven minutes of game time, holding him to five points on 2-for-7 shooting (28.6 percent).
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Green’s defensive effort on Durant was part of a larger scheme employed by the Warriors. They would often opt for a triangle-and-2 defense in which three defenders stay in a zone (in the form of a triangle) while the other two focus on individual players (i.e. Green on Durant).
When reflecting upon his defensive performance, Green said, “I felt like I had a good groove defensively going. My job is to make that shot as tough as I possibly can and live with those results. I think I made [Durant] take some tough shots over me. And he missed some of them. But the reality is we’ve both seen him take those same shots and knock every one of them down.”
For Green, Tuesday night was a statement performance in which he again provided a reminder of his elite standing as a defender. A six-time All-Defensive Team selection, Green earned his lone Defensive Player of the Year award for his efforts during the 2016-17 NBA season.
After finishing third in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, Green is already making a strong case to take home the hardware in 2021-22.