Kevin Durant is giving the Nets an MVP-caliber season with more points and minutes than any other player in the NBA.
What they don’t give in return is help.
Durant was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, the Nets’ fifth. Ironically, he lost to Boston in the fourth quarter when he was relentlessly double-teamed, and the Nets proved incapable of paying for all the open displays of gravity created for them.
“In general, we have to take advantage of when teams double play,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “If you’re going to send a second guy to our best player, we have to pay you for it. … Twice it was TJ [Warren], did not engage or play with us; A little hesitation on cutting it down the middle.
“Then other times, I think when we swing that thing and it gets to the second guy, you have to shoot it. So they were double-teamed a few times, but still managed to shut down our shots. This cannot be allowed.”
Durant led the NBA in points (747) and minutes (922), unfortunately for the Nets, on Monday. They are putting too much burden on himnot just by his role, but by the minutes he plays.
“It’s not ideal,” Vaughn said recently. “While we’re in a win-win mode, we win today’s game, we’re talking behind the scenes about what tomorrow looks like, the day after that.” So it’s on our minds.”
The Nets enjoyed the day off on Monday and will practice on Tuesday before hosting Charlotte on Wednesday. Then it comes Back-to-back against Atlanta and Indiana.
Vaughn and the Nets needed to find a way to not only lighten the load on Durant and reduce his minutes. be more productive around it when he played.
With the Nets’ 13-12 run, as well as hot starts by stars like Jayson Tatum and teams like the Celtics, where the Nets lost, it’s easy for Durant’s stellar campaign to get lost on the national stage. Sunday night.
Durant was smothered by the Celtics in the playoffs last season by relentless double teams. After shooting 51.4 percent and scoring 34.3 points in his first playoff game, Durant’s 21 turnovers were uncharacteristic in Boston. 38.6 percent were hit by tackles.
On Sunday, the Celtics — even without top defenders Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III — played Durant straight through three quarters, despite buying their own drives and crowding the paint. But in the fourth quarter, they doubled Durant and took away the blitz, giving the other Nets open looks.
The result? The Nets shot 7 of 19 and took a 28-23 lead.
“That’s why the game is so much fun, right?” Vaughn said philosophically. “[The] In previous years, they double it.
“They didn’t get it going in the first quarter, and then he started getting into the post and they double-teamed him. And it was a mixed bag for us. ”
Mixed bag kind. Durant Finished 13 of 24 from the field against Boston, with the rest of the Nets only 21 60 – or 35 percent. Kickouts had clean looks. However, Warren is still on pace, Royce O’Neal is 2 of 8 from deep, Seth Curry is in so much trouble that he doesn’t make a single 3-pointer, and Ben Simmons and Yuta Watanabe are also out. injured.
The absence of Simmons and Watanbe reduced the Nets’ bench, 24-15 Boston’s bench player. Patty Mills received five straight DNPs. Whether it’s re-introducing any of that trio or tweaks made by Vaughn, the Nets should cash in on the looks Durant’s upside is buying them.
“It’s an unlucky league,” Durant said. “This league is about offense. [Boston] struck.”