There is usually a hyperbolic response to great performances in sports. Immediately after a highly-contested game, or a dominant performance from a single athlete, the discourse is usually about how we just witnessed the greatest game of all-time. More often than not, we just get lost in the moment and overreact to what we just witnessed.
That is not the case when it comes to what Kevin Durant did on Tuesday night.
The Slim Reaper put together a playoff performance we have never seen before in the NBA, and did so with an ailing James Harden and without Kyrie Irving. Durant dropped 49 points on 16-of-23 shooting from the floor, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished 10 assists on Milwaukee, becoming the first player in NBA playoff history to post 45 or more points, 15 or more rebounds and 10 or more assists in a single game. To do this in a game that looked all but lost prior to tip-off is what makes the performance even more spectacular.
If Durant wanted Pat Connaughton on him he got him, going after the Bucks guard on what seemed to be 20 consecutive possessions. If Brook Lopez dropped in his pick-and-roll coverage -- as Mike Budenholzer usually has him do -- Durant would find his soft spot and drill a 15-foot jumper. How about the 3-point shot with less than minute left? Harden gets trapped 35 feet away from the basket, and in desperation finds Durant with 3 seconds left on the shot clock. Easy Money Sniper calmly catches the ball at the logo, takes a dribble and drains a 26-foot attempt with ease to give the Nets an insurmountable 109-105 lead.
It was incredible to watch Durant's performance on Tuesday night, and it is one that should not be lost in the noise of this morning’s news cycle. Yes, Chris Paul testing positive for COVID-19 is a massive story, and Kawhi Leonard being ruled out of (at least) Game 5 with a knee sprain is insane, but do not let it distract you from the greatness you witnessed on Tuesday night.
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Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers (-6.5, 224.5)
Is Joel Embiid going to go 0-of-12 from the floor in a half again? It sounds simplistic but the 76ers showed how dominant they could be from the second half of Game 1 to halftime of Game 4 on Monday. However, Embiid forcing shots and Ben Simmons offering nothing on offense allowed Atlanta to steal a win and avoid a nearly insurmountable 3-1 series deficit. I do not mean to sound dismissive of the Hawks’ chances in this series or this game, but what exactly have we seen from Atlanta to make us believe they actually have a schematic or personnel advantage in this series?