Giannis: Kevin Durant 'Best Player in the World,' Want to Guard Nets Star in Game 6

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 16, 2021

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, left, clenches his fist next to Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the waning seconds of the Nets' 114-108 victory in Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Kevin Durant is an absolute marvel and was essentially unstoppable as he posted a triple-double of 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists while leading the Brooklyn Nets to a 114-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Tuesday's Game 5 of their second-round playoff series. That said, it was hard to ignore one thing.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was named to the NBA's All-Defensive first team this season, wasn't guarding him as he put up those numbers.

That may change in Thursday's Game 6.

"He's the best player in the world right now," Antetokounmpo told reporters when talking about Durant. He also said, "I want to take on the challenge," when discussing the possibility of guarding the Nets star in the next contest.

That Antetokounmpo wasn't guarding Durant down the stretch of Tuesday's game was just one of the list of issues for the Bucks as they blew a 17-point lead.

They never ran consistent double teams Durant's way as he continued to torch their defense with an array of midrange jumpers, threes and drives to the basket. They also didn't help much off James Harden, who was a shell of himself on his way to three points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field in his return from a hamstring injury.

Offensively, Antetokounmpo settled far too often, including when he shot a fadeaway instead of attacking Harden when he had the injured star on the block in the fourth quarter.

Antetokounmpo also missed multiple free throws down the stretch and couldn't catch a pass from Khris Middleton in the final seconds while trailing by two.

Perhaps switching the four-time All-Defensive selection onto Durant will help change the momentum in this series because it is firmly on Brooklyn's side. Antetokounmpo can at least bother Durant's pull-up jumpers with his length and figures to be athletic and long enough to stay in front of him on plenty of drives.

If it doesn't work, the Bucks will be left thinking about what could have been from Tuesday's game. 

Rather than holding onto the lead and putting a Nets squad that is dealing with multiple high-profile injuries on the brink of elimination, the Bucks gave an all-time great player nothing but confidence and are now staring at the end of their season as they return home for Game 6.


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