Previewing the conference finals: What to do about Durant?

The San Antonio Spurs know they’re going to have their hands full in their series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’d be stupid to underestimate the offensive firepower that the Thunder are capable of producing.

The biggest threat is, of course, three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant. Durant’s long frame combined with his shooting and athletic ability makes him almost unstoppable.

So how do the Spurs stop unstoppable?

Durant has been relatively consistent against the Spurs this year, scoring 21, 22 and 25 points in each of the three games. Those numbers are all below his season average of 28 points per game, so the Spurs can say they’re one of the better teams at locking him down.

The key with defending Durant is that you don’t want to focus too much on it. He’s going to score and you have to accept that. I’d be surprised if he was held under 20 points in any game this series. You just have to make sure that you don’t devote so much attention to Durant that his extremely talented teammates are going off instead.

I imagine Coach Pop will have a few different looks to throw at Durant. They’ll probably start off with Kawhi Leonard, and switch it up to Stephen Jackson and maybe some other defenders as well. You don’t want to start throwing out double teams because Durant is a smart enough player to find his open teammate. It’s going to be a huge task finding the balance between too much and too little attention.

 

The Spurs are really just going to have to hope that someone wants to step up on the defensive end and throw Durant off his game a little bit. I’d like to see someone get up in his grill and get physical with him. We’ve all seen those scrawny long arms that he has, let’s see if Durant can take some bumps and bruises.

But honestly, the Spurs should be worried just as much about Russell Westbrook and James Harden as they worry about Durant. Those two guys are natural scorers that are capable of putting up 40 just as easily as Durant if you don’t keep your eye on them.

Coach Pop is an outstanding coach, and I’m very excited to see what defensive schemes he comes up with for guarding Kevin Durant. The Spurs’ fate won’t rest in the hands of their ability to guard the All-NBA first teamer, but if they can do it, I can see the series going their way.

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