If Kevin Durant’s staredown on Patrick Beverley last Saturday in Game One wasn’t enough evidence, the All-Star wants to dominate the Clippers guard. While he scored 21 points in the next matchup, he only got up 8 shots and just a single 3-pointer.
Also, Los Angeles got the win, surging back from down 31 for a 135-131 victory to even the series. In Wednesday’s press conference before the Warriors take the series down to Los Angeles, Durant made it clear: he knows he can score on Beverley one-on-one.
As long as the Clippers defense gives him those opportunities.
“They’ve been playing a gimmick defense,” Durant said to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, “which has been working, top blocking everything on the perimeter, so (our) guys aren’t even looking at the 3-point line (since they’re) forcing guys inside the 3-point line.
“When I get the ball in my spots, I got to pass Patrick Beverley, whose up underneath me. I could definitely shoot and score over the top every time if it’s a one-on-one situation, but we got a guy who’s dropping and helping and we got another guy whose just sitting and waiting for me to dribble the basketball.”
This strategy isn’t exactly how Beverley described his success in Game Two, saying that he has respect for Durant but says he tries to be the “best f–ng defender on the planet.”
“I don’t try to get in people’s head man,” Beverley told NBC Sports. “I can’t help (that) people get irritated by me. It’s not my fault. I go out there and I try to be the best defender on the f—ing planet, consistently – (day) in and out, in and out. I take my role, I take my job, very seriously, and I do it for my teammates.
“I understand my role, and I understand how to get stops. KD is not an easy cover, but it’s fun out there for sure.”
Durant’s tone in the interview suggested a determination to reassert himself as one of the top scorers in the NBA in Game 3. ESPN analyst and former NBA guard Jalen Rose warned Durant not to continue “beefing” with Beverley.
“(I’m worried about) the psyche and fragility of one Kevin Durant,” Rose said on First Take. “Yes, he’s won two championships and two Finals MVPs,” he continued before saying that the move to Golden State from OKC has turned him into a villain and “caused him to lose his game.”
“Yes, Patrick Beverley is an irritant, but there’s such a thing as not beefing down. That’s what KD is doing. He should take Beverley to the post, back him down and shoot over him. That’s all he has to do, it’s not that hard. For him to push him off, for him to get offensive fouls, for him to have 9 turnovers…this is not the Golden State Warriors.”
With that said, Golden State scored 131 points in Game Two, as well as 121 in Game One. While Durant is not getting the ridiculous numbers he’s used to, the Warriors just have to lock down on defense a smidge more and this whole beef is moot.
However, Durant is letting the basketball world know that he’s bringing it in Game 3.