KD Is Back!

And the Nets are dominate.

Jim Rome
April 08, 2021 - 9:28 am
Kevin Durant

USA Today

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The Brooklyn Nets are, as they say, a problem. I’m not saying that because they thrashed the Pelicans 139-111 last night. And I’m not saying it just because Kevin Durant was back in the lineup after missing two months with a hamstring injury.

I’m saying it because the Basketball Voltron is starting to take shape. And I say that, knowing that the Nets Big Three has only played seven games together this season. Last night, Kevin Durant was back, but James Harden was out. 

Doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that Kevin Durant didn’t even start last night. He was initially listed as a member of the starting lineup for his return, but before the game started, he was moved to the bench. The thinking was that coming off the bench, they’d have him for the second half in case the game was close. 

It was not. Ever.

But it did mean that we got the weird sight of Kevin Durant coming off the bench for the first time in forever. And in fact, he didn’t even get into the game until there were roughly eight minutes left in the second quarter. Roll it. 

But the question was, how would he look? How much rust would he have to knock off after being out since February?

The world found out about a minute later. 

Smooth as ever. And I’m not talking about Kevin Durant, I’m talking about Ian Eagle on the YES Network. As much love as Ian gets for his work, he doesn’t get enough. That is one of the all-time great guys on the mic. 

And sure, Durant wasn’t bad either. How much rust would he have to knock off? How about none. That was silk. And still, even after all these years, it’s crazy to think that a seven footer can do that and make it look that smooth. Especially after missing two months.  Like, if you’re one of those people who want to clown him. And them. He and they are making it nearly impossible to do. 

So, it was a welcome return to Kevin Durant making news on the basketball court instead of on Twitter. Because as weird and strange as that guy is on twitter, he is that dominant on the court. 

Five for five from the field, 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in 19 minutes. Off the bench. After missing two months. Straight stupidity. Truly. That’s ridiculous. How do you explain a guy who hasn’t played since February 13th just showing up and looking like that? 

Answer: you can’t.

You show up and put up those numbers and you’re damn right I’ll overlook the six turnovers.

Not that Durant was surprised: “I expected to come out here and play the way I played. I wasn’t trying to ease into the game. I just wanted to go out there and dive right into the action. The game was fast-paced already so from watching it from the bench I knew exactly how I needed to approach it. It was pretty cool coming off the bench I can’t lie.”

He didn’t ease into the game at all. He went all Thornton melon, triple lindy into the deep end as part of Nets offense that put on a bleeping show last night. The Nets hit 79% from the field, including 86% from deep, in the second quarter. They put up 79 points in the first half. 79 points. In the first half.

It wasn’t that long ago that 79 points was a full game and now…these guys were putting it up by halftime. And that’s without James Harden. Like is said, the Nets are a real freaking problem. So exactly where is it coming from? Well, from Kyrie, for one:

Needless to say, Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased. With that. Or anything else that transpired during that beatdown last night, quote “We got dominated at both ends of the floor. Totally dominated. We couldn't get out to the 3-point line. Our defense was absurd. They totally dominated us."

I repeat, they put up 79 points in one half and they did it with only two thirds of their Big Three.  So that’s why he’s saying their defense was absurd, and why everyone else around the league should be concerned. 

I know, I know…, it’s one game. And I knows it’s in early April. Just as I know it’s against the Pelicans, but you can starting to see this monster taking shape. And yes, it will be interesting to see what happens when they’re tested, especially on the defensive end or when they have a night when they aren’t hitting nearly 80% during one quarter. 

So no, we shouldn’t just cancel the rest of the season just yet. But if that was Durant’s first appearance with LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin and that’s how they looked. If that group is looking like that on their first night together, look the hell out. If that’s how they look as they’re just starting to jell, the hell is that finished product going to look like???

Again, I want to be very clear about this: running up the score on the 11 seed doesn’t mean we crown their ass: the west is deep. But not THAT deep. And there are still question surrounding this team. And they do still have to prove it when it matters most.  But that’s a warning shot to the rest of league. Durant is back and as looks as good as he’s ever looked. If the Beard has a similar impact when he comes back, this basketball Voltron is pretty damn near complete and an absolute problem to anybody who steps on the floor with them. 

Because it’s no longer a question of do these pieces fit and can Steve Nash handle these egos as a first time head coach. They do, he can, and if they’re healthy, these cats might now be the ones to beat. There’s no doubt in my mind they’d run the Lakers right out of the gym on some nights. Question can they do it four times in 7 nights. And the more I watch these guys, the more I think they can. The thing I still need to see is how Nash and the big three operate in late game, pressure situations, and the kind of adjustments they all make over a 7 game series. Then again, if they’re up 30 every night, it really doesn’t matter. And they might be. Because right now, they’re scary. Bron may have thought number 5 was in the bag coming into the season, I guarantee he’s not thinking that now.  And nor should anyone else.