The series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets is tied 2-2, heading into Game 5 at Brooklyn. After taking a commanding 2-0 lead, the Nets lost a close one in Game 3 before getting blown out in Game 4. Kyrie Irving is on the sidelines after injuring his ankle in Game 4 while James Harden has missed the entire series so far.
Without Irving and Harden by his side, Durant is now looking at his roster with a bit of concern. After all, Kevin Durant has had some incredible teammates over the past few seasons of his career. With future Hall of Famers Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green by his side; Durant won 2 titles and 2 Finals MVPs. The Nets were also the favorites with Harden and Irving healthy, but things have changed.
Can Kevin Durant pull off a victory against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks without Harden and Irving? He might need to because his legacy could be on the line.
Kevin Durant Never Won Without A Superteam
No player in NBA history has had the amount of help that Kevin Durant had. To start his career, he had a triple-double threat at the point guard position in Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was a multiple-time All-Star with the Thunder and even led the NBA in scoring when Durant was on the roster.
Of course, Durant joined forces with 2-time MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in Golden State. The shooting and defense of those players alongside Durant caused the NBA to be extremely unbalanced and the Warriors won 2 straight NBA titles. Even though Durant won both Finals MVPs, the Warriors were Curry's team and Draymond Green was the vocal leader.
For the first time in his career, Durant has to win without another superstar beside him. He is not in the worst position because at 2-2, anything can happen especially since Durant is the best player on the floor. Brooklyn Nets also have some solid role players such as Blake Griffin, Bruce Brown, Mike James, and Joe Harris so it is not as if Durant is going out there with a bunch of scrubs.
He Is The Best Player In The Series But Must Prove It
Kevin Durant received a ton of criticism in Golden State for taking the easy way out to winning NBA championships, but he proved it on the brightest stage of them all. Against LeBron James and the Cavaliers in 2 consecutive Finals, Durant was the best player in the Finals and earned his 2 Finals MVPs.
That is why Durant is widely recognized as the most unstoppable scorer in the NBA today. But if he wants to overcome the rest of the league and prove he is the single best player in the NBA today, he must prove it in this series against Milwaukee. Durant has been in the shadow of LeBron James for years until he joined a 73-9 Golden State team, but even then, LeBron was considered a better player.
Even Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo were making claims for themselves by winning the NBA title and multiple MVPs respectively. We all know Durant is in the top five, but it is time for him to prove he is the king of the NBA. Going against 2-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Durant can play like the best player in the series by doing much more than scoring to lead his team to victory.
More Than Being A Scorer, Kevin Durant Must Make His Teammates Better
The reason LeBron James received his recognition was that he made his teammates better. That is an attribute of all the greatest NBA players starting from Michael Jordan to LeBron James. While each superstar does it in their own way, making teammates better must be attributed to the best player in the game.
Michael Jordan did it by pushing his team in practice and in games and ensuring each player performed at his best at all times. LeBron James does it by playmaking and always offering a shoulder to lean on. For Kevin Durant, he must prove he can win without a superteam by making his teammates better. He must do this by being a playmaker, holding others responsible, and venturing out of his comfort zone.
Kevin Durant is a really nice guy, and that probably got in his way in Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook is an aggressive demon on the court and often prevented Durant from truly flourishing. Even in Golden State, Durant was a part of a successful cog run by Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson. In this series, Durant has no one else to turn to.
He must showcase his playmaking much more than being just a scorer. Durant can average 35 in this series, and he needs to come close to that to win the series without Harden and Irving. But he must be a playmaker as well, placing his teammates in the best positions to succeed, and being vocal on the court. The Bucks are one of the best teams in the NBA for a reason, and Durant must be the ultimate killer on the court to get the job done.
If The Nets Win The Series, There Is No Doubt Kevin Durant Is The Greatest Player On Earth
If Kevin Durant holds others accountable and showcases his leadership and playmaking on the court, he has a chance to lead a decent Nets team past the Milwaukee Bucks. In terms of raw talent, without disrespect to Giannis and company, Durant is the most impactful player in this series. If he imposes his will and carries a burden that the likes of Michael Jordan and LeBron James have had to, he can finally breakthrough as the best player in the world.
Kevin Durant is much more than just a scorer and certainly more than a cog in a terrific system surrounded by Hall of Famers. LeBron James had to carry multiple average teams to the NBA Finals and Michael Jordan endured arguably the most adversity of any great player before he got Scottie Pippen. Durant does not have Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, James Harden, or Kyrie Irving. But he needs to get the job done so he can etch his name among the greats and prove he can overcome adversity like his rivals have done.
While it seems unfair to put this pressure on Kevin Durant who is only a year removed from an Achilles injury, he has proven that he is great enough to accomplish this with his past play. With greatness comes responsibility, and Kevin Durant is good enough to get the job done. All that is left is for him to go out there and prove it.