When the Brooklyn Nets needed a basket against the Boston Celtics, they did what any NBA team would have done: they gave Kevin Durant the ball and got out of his way.
Kevin Durant’s Final Opportunity Is Thwarted by Jayson Tatum.
When Durant isolated his opponent, drove to the basket, slowed down, and made a fadeaway shot above his head, his teammates might as well have been there in Fenway Park. Never before in human history had someone of Durant’s status handled such a terrible circumstance with such grace. Nor had anyone ever been more difficult to stop. NBA defenders have witnessed this precise sequence so frequently that they can visualise the final swoosh in their minds.
However, such was not the case this time. Durant has attempted thousands of the most unstoppable throws in the history of basketball, but on this occasion, the throw was blocked.
This occurred in the first playoff game between the Nets and Celtics. It then occurred again in the second game. These two unlikely dips were caused by the same individual.
Although LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all previously blocked Durant’s jumper, no one has done so more effectively in the playoffs than Jayson Tatum.
It is incredibly rare for anyone in the world to block Durant. According to study by Stats LLC, only 2 percent of Durant’s jumpers were blocked by exceptional athletes and defenders who were expected to guard him. In other terms, he tried 16,269 successful jump shots.
Hands on 354, which is less than the total number of offensive fouls committed by Durant throughout his career. It turns out that NBA players have greater success getting run over by a 6-foot guy who drops the ball several feet higher than usual than they do blocking his shot.
Tatum, on the other hand, offers the idea that it is simple. In addition to his two blocks against Durant, he now has a career total of six, all of which came in the playoffs.
There is nothing more symbolic than seeing Tatum destroy Kevin Durant’s throws in the best series of the first round of the NBA playoffs. While Game 3 will be played in Brooklyn on Saturday night, the Celtics have a 2-0 lead over the Nets, largely because the league’s finest defence has adhered to Kevin Durant like sunscreen. There always seems to be someone between him and the sun.
When Durant touches the ball during a game against the Celtics, Tatum frequently finds himself surrounded by a tangle of limbs. Tatum is not the best defender on a team featuring Marcus Smart, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, but his size, length, and instincts make him an expert at causing difficulties for Durant, who goes on a losing run while being defended by Tatum. Tatum limited Durant to eight points, seven turnovers, no passes, and two of 13 free throws in the second half, including those amazing blocks, according to tracking statistics.
Only 15 players in NBA history have managed to stop at least five of Kevin Durant’s throws. On this list are James, Leonard, Antetokounmpo, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, and Dwight Howard, defensive specialists like Marc Gasol and Tony Allen, and Durant’s specialists like P.J. Tucker, who hounded Durant so hard in the preseason playoffs that he chased him down. His conduct could have been deemed unlawful in any context other than a basketball court.
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Shawn Marion is the only other player who has dissed him more frequently than Tucker. They met 33 times, with Marion registering 11 blocks against Durant. Tatum has already eclipsed fifty percent of his previous season’s total after just fourteen games.
One rule of the NBA is that anyone who believes they know how to defeat Durant will be proven wrong very immediately. Tatum will not end Durant’s streak. No one exists. He is unwilling to accept credit for the times he has effectively stopped him.