The Nets’ 2020-21 campaign was laid to rest a week ago with the Bucks’ 115-111 win in Game 7 of their second-round series. Milwaukee moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals, and Brooklyn got an early start on its summer.
Kevin Durant did essentially everything he could to lift the Nets while his co-stars, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, dealt with injuries during the Bucks series. The only thing he failed to do was hit the game-winning 3-pointer with just a few ticks left on the clock in overtime of Game 7.
But while Durant’s offseason arrived sooner than he would have liked, he’s still very much in playoff form when it comes to his Twitter game.
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Kevin Durant Claps Back at Scottie Pippen
Durant averaged 34.3 points (on 51.4 shooting from the field and 40.2 percent shooting from 3-point range), 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the playoffs this year. His Game 5 performance against the Bucks was historical: He became the first player in NBA history to have 45 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game.
All of that helped build K.D.’s case as the NBA’s top player — at least according to some. But Scottie Pippen has used that discourse to go against the grain.
LeBron James still owns the mantle for best player, according to Pippen. The six-time NBA champ with the Chicago Bulls has insisted that LeBron would have found a way to beat Milwaukee, using that point as the centerpiece of his argument that Durant has not yet surpassed LeBron.
Durant got wind of Pippen’s remarks and, true to form, used Twitter to clap back.
“Didn’t the great Scottie pippen refuse to go in the game for the last second shot because he was in his feelings his coach drew up the play for a better shooter??” Durant tweeted.
Though that point has nothing to do with Pippen’s argument about Durant’s place in the hierarchy of modern basketball, he’s not wrong: Pippen famously sat out the last play of Game 3 between the Knicks and Bulls in the 1994 playoffs because that play wasn’t drawn up for him. The Bulls wound up winning despite Pippen’s decision, with Toni Kukoc nailing the winning shot. Durant, in essence, is saying: Pippen is one to talk.
Pippen recently spoke with Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, when the topic arose. Pippen’s take: Durant still hasn’t surpassed Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
“Surpassing LeBron James takes a little bit more than an individual’s effort. LeBron James is a complete team player who understands team and winning. Has K.D. gotten to that level yet? He went home,” Pippen told Goodwill. “To say that he’s surpassed LeBron, I think he still has some learning to do in terms of what it takes to will a team to victory. Give Brooklyn a lot of credit. They lost Kyrie, James Harden probably was less than 50 percent. It just wasn’t seeing the same player, but still, it was a heck of a series.”
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Durant Reflects on Game 7
After Brooklyn’s Game 7 loss, Durant reflected on a hard-fought series that featured the Nets hindered by injuries to star players.
“I can’t even speak about how much we missed Kyrie out on the floor and how much we missed James to start the series. And seeing him, you know, I could go for 40 minutes on both of those two, on how much they care about us and how much they put their bodies on the line and help us out as a team,” Durant said, via nba.com. “Kyrie had a gruesome ankle injury, and he was thinking about when could he play next. And that shows that he cares about us so much. James playing on one leg came out there and gave it his all, 48 minutes in Game 5, 40 (in Game 6) and then what, 50 (in Game 7), you know? There’s nothing but respect and love for those two guys. We missed them out there. But we still had a chance to win.”