Kevin Durant pieced together one of the strongest two-way performances in recent playoff memory on Tuesday night in the Brooklyn Nets crucial Game 5 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Playing alongside a hobbled James Harden and a rotating cast of role players, the 32-year-old, two-time Finals MVP finished with 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists in the Nets 113-108 win.
Bucks swingman P.J. Tucker did his best against Durant all night long but ultimately had no answer for him. Notably absent from guarding the Nets star was 2020 Defensive Player of the Year, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Among those who weren’t fans of the Bucks defensive assignments was First Team All NBA defender Draymond Green.
Marcus Thompson, a columnist for The Athletic in the Bay Area, pointed out that the Golden State Warriors forward would never back down from a challenge to guard the hottest guy on the court, which in this case, would be Durant. Given Green’s personality, the assessment seems like a fair one to make.
“No universe exists where Draymond doesn’t demand at least a crack at the hottest dude on the court,” Thompson tweeted after watching Durant’s 49-point outburst.
Green clearly concurred with Thompson’s statement as he took to Twitter to agree.
That part!! 🗣🗣🗣 https://t.co/Dh5BFQsfag
— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) June 16, 2021
After the Bucks’ Game 5 loss, Antetokounmpo said that he would relish the opportunity to guard Durant in the next meeting between the two teams. Of course, that’ll be up to head coach Mike Budenholzer, who has already struggled to make defensive adjustments throughout the series.
“I want to take on the challenge,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after Game 5. “I would love to go into Game 6 being able to guard him and if coach wants me to do that, I’m ready for it.”
However, Antetokounmpo also acknowledged an interesting point after Durant’s outburst. The 2019 and 2020 NBA MVP called the Nets star the best player in the world during his media session.
“He’s the best player in the world right now,” Giannis admitted. “And we’ve got to beat him as a team.”
Antetokounmpo clearly wanted to give credit where credit is due, but some Bucks fans didn’t like what the comment implied about their star player’s confidence. All he can do now is put his best foot forward against Durant in Game 6 and give Milwaukee a chance to play in a winner-take-all Game 7.