Nets star Kevin Durant began shaking his head while the question was being asked. The Warriors are coming to play Brooklyn on Tuesday, and he surely knew there would be some bold assertions made heading into the matchup.
And, yes, there it was, in the question: Finals preview. Fun to imagine as an NBA fan, of course, with Durant going up against his old team, but don’t expect Durant to indulge in that kind of speculation, even with the Warriors atop the NBA at 10-2 and the Nets close behind at 10-4, second in the East and riding a three-game winning streak.
“It’s just another game,” Durant said. “I mean it’s 15 games into the season. Obviously they are the best team in the league, they are playing at an elite level. It’s a regular season game. We obviously want to go out there and win in front of our home crowd, but we’re not gonna put too much pressure on ourselves and call this a Finals matchup, we ain’t even looking at it like that. It’s another opportunity to build up who we are, figure out what we want to do out there and keep pushing.”
Oddsmakers See Nets-Warriors Finals Chance Rising
Still, while Durant might not be thinking about the potential for a Warriors-Nets NBA Finals, the good folks out in Vegas see it as an increasing possibility. The Nets, even with some early struggles from James Harden and the continued absence of Kyrie Irving because of New York City’s vaccine mandate, are the major favorites to win the Eastern Conference, coming in at only plus-120 (i.e., a $100 bet wins $120) to rep the East in the Finals, according to VegasInsider.com.
The Milwaukee Bucks, the defending NBA champs, are plus-300, with the Heat at plus-600.
In the West, the Lakers remain the favorite, but the number has moved considerably on the Warriors, who are now plus-300 on the futures odds board, after opening the year at plus-550. The Lakers are plus-280.
That means that Durant and the Nets, whether they admit it or not, are seen as increasingly likely to be heading toward what would be an epic NBA Finals.
Durant’s Tenure With the Warriors Ended Badly
Of course, Durant would be the major storyline in any such series. He played for the Warriors after leaving Oklahoma City in 2016, spending three tumultuous seasons with Golden State. Durant and the Warriors went to the Finals in all three years he was there, and won two championships, with Durant winning Finals MVP both times.
The Warriors lost to Toronto in the 2019 Finals, as Durant tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5. Golden State lost Game 6, allowing the Raptors to claim their first title.
Durant bolted to Brooklyn the following summer, and a raft of rumors and chatter about his unhappiness with Golden State—and the team’s unhappiness with him—surfaced thereafter.
Most notable was a widely circulated incident in which Durant and Green had a shouting match on the bench during a game early in the 2018-19 season. Durant and Green later blamed the organization for downplaying the fight, rather than confronting it. Durant and Green have since settled their beef.
“We just needed to throw all of that s— out on the table and be like ‘Yo, that was f—ed up.’ … I don’t think we did that,” Durant told Green an in interview this summer. “We tried to dance around it. I just didn’t like how all of that, just the vibe between all of that, made s— weird to me. … Communication is key, and we didn’t show that and that’s what rubbed me the wrong way more than anything.”