“GREATNESS,” wrote LeBron James on Twitter in the aftermath of the Brooklyn Nets’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night. “Appreciate it while you can, people.”
When someone who is widely-considered to be one of the greatest NBA players of all-time makes a statement like that, you know the sport has witnessed something very special.
The person in question is Kevin Durant who reminded everyone what he’s capable of on the court as he came up with 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and two blocks to inspire the Brooklyn Nets to a 114-108 over the Bucks to take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final series.
The New York outfit were forced to rely heavily on Durant in game five of their best-of-seven series with the other members of the Nets’ ‘big three’ out injured or recovering from injury. Kyrie Irving was ruled out after an injury in the previous game, while James Harden had a quiet shift as he was recovering from a hamstring injury that required him to be laced up with $100 in elastic therapeutic tape on his right leg.
"Kevin's game was just unbelievable," said Harden. "He was unfazed the entire game."
The power forward hit a three-pointer and three free throws late on to seal the win, played all 48 minutes, and finished just shy of his play-off career high of 50 points. It was a performance that Nets’ coach Steve Nash believes makes the 32-year-old “one of the all-time greats". Gianna Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee’s two-time MVP, who scored 34 points for the Bucks himself, called Durant "the best player in the world right now".
Durant also posted his second career post-season triple-double, joining Oscar Robertson, Charles Barkley and Luka Doncic as the fourth player with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a play-off game.
"To be honest, I don't even rank or look at the performances," Durant said once the dust had settled at the Barclays Center.
"Once they happen, I just try to move on and see if I can do it again. It was a fun game to be a part of. There was a lot of games in my career that I felt were just as fun. I'm sure when I reflect on it, we can talk about it again, but for now, it was great that we got the W."
The two sides will face each other in game six on Friday in Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.