About a year ago, someone who shall remain nameless was watching an NBA game with me, and was amazed to find out that both teams actually run plays on offense and have defensive schemes, as opposed to just freestyling it out on the court. While basketball isn't as upfront about their playcalling as say, football, where there's a huddle before practically every play, there is something of a chess match that plays out between both teams, whether you can see it or not.
On Wednesday, Kevin Durant peeled back the curtain to provide an in-depth breakdown of how he believes Patrick Beverley and the Los Angeles Clippers have been defending him through the first two games of their series. "They're playing a gimmick defense, which has been working top blocking everything on the perimeter, so guys not even looking at the three-point line. They're just forcing guys inside the three-point line," Durant said. "So for us, when I get the ball in my spots, you know, I got a pest Patrick Beverley who's up underneath me."
"Oh, I could definitely shoot over top and score every time if it's a one-on-one situation, but we got a guy that's dropping and helping, and we got a guy that sitting and waiting for me to dribble the basketball," Durant continues. "If I put the basketball on the floor I can probably make 43 percent of my shots if I shoot 'em like that, but that's not really gonna do nothing for us—for the outcome of the game because we got a nice flow everybody touching the rock. Everyone's shooting and scoring. I'm not going to get in the way of the game because I want to have a little back-and-forth with Patrick Beverley. I'm Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y'all know who I am."
Durant's thorough breakdown is followed by a question wondering if he has ever dealt with this type of defensive strategy before. If you saw last year's playoffs, then you know that the answer is yes because the Houston Rockets would put their own small defender, Chris Paul, on KD. It didn't always work, but the approach was intriguing enough that the Clippers wanted to emulate it this year.
"I've played against every defense. It's not just this type," Durant said. "The constant help on my drives, the poking at the ball while I'm dribbling, the two guys rushing me as I beat my guy off the dribble. That's how I learned how to pass the ball and be a little more patient before the catch. I got to set up shop sometimes and clear out space sometimes to get my thing going."
"But in this series it's a little weird because when a guy's that small you got the advantage," he adds. "But the refs see—we hear 'David and Goliath' a lot growing up so that story is pretty prominent in people's mind. So when you put that out on the court against me the refs going to give him a little more But when he run up on me like a pit bull and grab me and hold me I don't mind it. That's how he makes his money. That's how he feeds his family, but if I throw something back then let us play. I got 4 of 5 offensive fouls like that. I'm trying to figure out each possession how to be more effective without getting offensive fouls."