BOSTON — The Celtics know who Kevin Durant is — and they know he is most dangerous after he has tasted defeat.
After the bitterness of the Nets’ 115-114 Game 1 loss to the Celtics, that should make Durant a problem Wednesday in Game 2 at TD Garden.
“KD one of the best players in terms of just in game in history,” Celtics forward Grant Williams said. “So we have to do a phenomenal job of staying into him, because everything has to be tough. Not only him walking up and down the court, but him trying to just get a cup of water on the sidelines. If you can be in his face, some way somehow, you’ve got to take him off his rhythm, take him out of his game.
“And he’s going to be aggressive. We all know Kevin Durant. We all know the fact that after a loss he averages, what, 40 points a game. So we know he’s going to come out being aggressive in Game 2, and we know that we have to be prepared not only to withhold that but also understand that we can’t let tough shots that he hits affect us mentally going on the other end, on defense.”
Williams isn’t far off.
Since the start of the 2019 playoffs, Durant has averaged 35.8 points in his first game following a loss. Discounting the 2019 game in which he ruptured his Achilles and scored just 11 points, he’s averaging a mind-bending 38.9 following a defeat.
“He finds a way to just dig in and pull out even more from himself,” Durant’s mother, Wanda, once told The Post of her son’s mind frame after playoff defeats. “As competitive as he is, he’s evaluating what he could’ve done, or what he should’ve done a little differently. So he begins to strategize in his mind on what he can do.”
That strategy includes cutting down on turnovers, and making an extra pass so his teammates don’t have to play in crowds.
“I know what I did. I wish I’d played better. We probably would’ve won the game,” Durant said of the Game 1 loss. “But I can’t let it get in the way too much. You want to look at the big picture, which is the series. It’s a thin line you’re trying to cross when you want to focus the best you can but also realize it’s a team game. It’s good going through tough games. You try to evaluate and move on from them.”
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