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Kevin Durant Has Historic Night In Game 5 Win

·9 min read

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With a one-game slate slowly becoming the norm as playoff teams start to dwindle, I'll check out what was must-see TV in the form of Kevin Durant torching the Bucks in Game 5, and even talk some All-NBA selections. Let's Dose!

Nets 114, Bucks 108 (BKN leads series 3-2)

This Tuesday evening game had all of the facets of an instant classic, and could very well be considered the best game of these playoffs so far strictly due to some guy named Kevin Durant. The Nets were far more undermanned than the Bucks and weren’t really supposed to win this game, given that Kyrie Irving was out with his right ankle sprain and will almost surely be out for at least however long this series goes. Brooklyn did welcome back James Harden from a hamstring injury, but he was not the story of the night by any means.

Kevin Durant made history seemingly a million times in the win tonight, finishing the game with 49 points (16-of-23 FG, 13-of-16 FT), 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers without leaving the court for a single second. His team needed all 48 of those minutes too, as they were down as many as 17 points in the third quarter and looked like they had run out of steam at times. Durant is the first player in NBA playoff history to tally at least 45 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, and he also notched the third-highest field-goal percentage (69.6%) in a 40-point triple-double in the history of the playoffs. KD is unfair, and he will sleep incredibly well tonight before he and the other Nets head to Milwaukee for what could potentially be a series-clinching Game 6. Jeff Green, of all people, was the other star tonight, scoring a playoff career-high 27 points to go with one rebound, three dimes, a block and seven triples (which matches the franchise playoff record). He was 8-of-11 overall and only missed one of his eight three-pointers, good for a 104.5% eFG%. As phenomenal as Durant was, the Nets would not have come back, let alone won this game, had Jeff Green still been sidelined, so he will also get some well-deserved rest tonight. Blake Griffin had an empty 17-point, three-triple night, but was better than most of the other Nets, which segues me nicely into the next hot topic: James Harden. In no way, shape, or form was Harden himself after missing basically the entirety of the first four games of this series with a hamstring injury, and it looked like he was hurting Brooklyn more often than helping them, especially in the first three quarters. He came out with one of the most bizarre stat lines we’ll see not just from Harden, but in general, totaling just five points on 1-of-10 shooting (0-of-8 3PT FG), six rebounds, eight assists and four turnovers in 46 minutes. Yes, he played all but two minutes of this game, basically on one leg, and the three free-throw attempts alone speak volumes for how anti-aggressive he was. His status for Thursday’s Game 6 will probably be up in the air, but unless he aggravated his hammy, he’ll probably give it a go and look as un-Harden like as we’ve probably ever seen him.

The Milwaukee Bucks let this one slip right away from them and this may come back to bite them unless they win two straight games, but they’ll be coming back with a vengeance on Thursday. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 34 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks, two 3-pointers and four turnovers in 42 minutes, and there is not one good reason that Giannis should have played fewer minutes than Harden, but coach Bud is going to be coach Bud. He also decided to leave P.J. Tucker (scoreless, four boards, two steals in 33 minutes) out of the game down the stretch, which made things slightly easier on Durant as Tucker actually did a good job defending him in Game 4, but nothing coach Bud does should surprise us these days. Khris Middleton had a nice 25/4/5/1/1 line with three 3-pointers, but sank just eight of his 22 shots in a team-high 45 minutes. He was defending KD for a good chunk of the night, which likely and rightfully tired him out and affected his offense, but he has generally struggled getting his shot to fall for most of this series after shooting 54.8% in the first-round series against Miami. Jrue Holiday scored 19 and also tacked on three boards, eight assists, three triples, a steal and three giveaways in his comparatively modest 34 minutes of action. Guys like Middleton and Holiday continue to be solid, but the Bucks will need one of these two guys to join Giannis in having huge nights if Kevin Durant is going to continue to have performances even as close to as scary as he did tonight.

All-NBA Teams

In addition to the Nets vs. Bucks Game 5, the three All-NBA Teams were announced on Tuesday evening as well. The full voting breakdown can be found here, and this is how things played out:

All-NBA First Team: Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic

All-NBA Second Team: Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid

All-NBA Third Team: Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Rudy Gobert

There is a ton to take in here, as is the case every year, and no social media platform is safe without some “Where’s x?” and “How did y get on there?” and so on. Before I get into the All-Left-Out list, let’s talk about a couple positives, starting with Luka Doncic. People often forget about the incentives that come with accolades like earning a spot on an All-NBA Team, but Luka assuredly did not. With his second consecutive All-NBA honors, he is now eligible to sign a rookie maximum extension this offseason that equates to 30% of the 2022-2023 salary cap, and the extension could break the $200 million mark. Luka will be getting paid the big bucks for a very, very long time, and rightfully so. On another positive, LeBron James is in the middle of his contract and signed an extension so he’s safe as a Laker and obviously isn’t eligible for anything at this stage in his career, but with an All-NBA Second Team selection, LeBron has now been on 17 straight All-NBA Teams to make it the most in NBA history, and it’s even more impressive that it has been in 17 straight seasons. He’s also only the second player in the history of the game to make a team in his 18th season or later (Tim Duncan made the Third Team in the 2014-2015 season). All I can really say at this point is long live The King, and there’s really no telling how much gas he has left in the tank either.

With every positive, there is a negative, and this negative comes in the form of the All-Snub Team, which I have extended to eight players just because I can:

All-Snub Team: Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Zion Williamson, Trae Young

For starters, Durant, Harden, and Zion were all hurt for a decent stretch of the season, so none of these exceptions are too shocking. Trae Young wasn’t even an All-Star and I’m not sure what the issue with him is as he was third in assists on a per-game basis and 15th in scoring for a team that earned the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. He does have some extremely tough competition at the point guard position, which is what I believe is the only reason he and Russell Westbrook (who had a historic season yet again) were left off of the lists.

These guys could probably go either way, but the real head-scratchers lie among the first three guys on the list, starting with Jayson Tatum. Tatum has had some insane moments this year and, while his team didn’t have a ton of success, it shouldn’t take that much away from his 26.4/7.4/4.3 season averages to go along with 1.2 steals and 2.9 threes per game as well. Here’s the weirdest thing, though - Tatum actually got more voting points (69) than Third Team member Kyrie Irving (61), but though Tatum was eligible as a guard and forward, he was slotted as a forward because that’s the position where he received the most votes. I really can’t say much on that, and not to say that Kyrie is undeserving by any means, but Jayson Tatum is the real deal regardless if he made one of the three teams or not.

Arguably the two most mind-boggling snubs: Devin Booker and Donovan Mitchell. These two guys are the only two players out of 45 possible options since the merger in 1976 to average at least 25 points per game on a top-two regular season team (Jazz were first, Suns second) and not earn an All-NBA selection. Absolutely unreal. These guys were both so good and were leaders of their teams, who had incredible seasons, and couldn’t even get a spot on any of the three teams. To be clear, in no way do any of these 15 guys selected NOT deserve the honors, but to exclude these two guys seems ludicrous. But what’s of utmost importance to these two is that they both still remain in contention for an NBA title, with Booker’s Suns the only team to reach a conference finals thus far.

Looking ahead: The sad reality of this stage of the playoffs is that the nights where we have multiple games have dwindled down to only two guaranteed occurrences of such nights (pending statuses of Game 7s, of course), and one of these two nights is Wednesday, June 16. Atlanta will return back to Philadelphia after tying things up 2-2 in Game 4, and Los Angeles will similarly return back to Utah after two straight wins at home to even things up 2-2. If the Suns weren’t so good, these semifinals would be one for the books all across the map, but we’ll take what we can get with a 75% clip on nail-biting conference semifinals series.