OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant is in the midst of one of the greatest postseason runs of his storied career. The 30-year-old forward continued his brilliant stretch by scoring 35 points and grabbing five rebounds in a 104-100 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday. Durant’s recent play drew a comparison to Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s former teammate with the Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan.
“There’s this guy named Michael something,” Kerr said as the assembled media chuckled. “Can’t remember his last name. No, but Kevin’s run this past week has just been off the charts. I’ve said it a few times this week: He’s the most skilled basketball player on Earth. He’s one of the most skilled basketball players to ever play the game. There’s never been anybody like him. Six-[foot]-11, handles the ball, shoots 3s, passes, defends. He’s just an unbelievable talent. And I think after we lost Game 2 to the Clippers, I think he just felt like he had to turn it up and lift us up another level. That’s exactly what he’s done.”
Durant, who is averaging 40.2 points in his past five games, including 50 points in Friday’s Game 6 series clincher against the LA Clippers, is dominating at a level that is leaving his teammates and coaches a bit in awe.
“He’s playing great right now,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “He’s being extremely aggressive, and when he’s being aggressive as he’s being, I don’t think there’s anyone in the NBA, maybe the world, that can stop him. So when he’s being aggressive like that, that’s always a positive for us. It’s a challenge for the opposing team.”
For his part, Durant is taking his recent play in stride. He was confident throughout the season in his ability to take over games when his team needed him to do so. His recent play hasn’t come as a surprise to him.
“I try not to compare,” Durant said. “Each stop along the journey has been — I’ve just been tailor-made for the moment, I guess. I learned a lot so far as a player up until this point, so I think I’m starting to put everything together on both sides of the ball. I’m not looking at points or shots that I get up, just how focused I am for each possession.”
Durant and the Warriors head into Game 2 on Tuesday buoyed by the fact that they found a way to win despite both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson coming into the game with sprained right ankle injuries. With the All-Star backcourt feeling better and expected to get more treatment on Monday, the Warriors feel good knowing that the rest of their weapons will be healthier and will give Durant even more space to operate.
“He has been amazing,” Curry said of Durant. “He’s been so aggressive on the offense end. Found his matchups, taking his shots. Defensively he’s been present. He just understands kind of what we need when we need it. And he’s been playing with the ultimate confidence. I know he always has confidence, but it seems like it’s been amped up in these last five games.”