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Kevin Durant Happy Focus Back on Play, Not What He's 'Going to Do in the Future'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors speaks with the media after Game Three of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant has spent much of the 2018-19 season getting bombarded with questions about free agency, but that wasn't the case after his dominant performance Thursday.

After dropping 38 points in the Warriors' 132-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series, KD talked about the pleasure he takes in the focus being on basketball rather than where he will be playing next season, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports: 

"This was the first time this season that my actual basketball play, and not about what I'm going to do in the future, took over the headlines. Think about that now. That hasn't happened in a long time. I like that. That's the way it should be."

"This game is what it's all about, not about something that hasn't even happened. Let's enjoy basketball. I can take the criticism about the game. This is what we're paid to do. That should be the focus. This is good."

Durant's 38 points were the catalyst in Golden State bouncing back from a Game 2 debacle that saw it blow a 31-point lead in defeat.

Durant averaged just 22 points in the first two games of the series, and he averaged just 12 field goal attempts per contest. In the Game 2 loss, KD took only eight shots, although he did make 11 of his 12 free-throw attempts.

The reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP made 14 of his 23 tries from the field Thursday and ensured that the offense ran through him.

Durant was a game-high plus-32 in the contest, while Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was minus-20 after guarding Durant effectively in the first two games of the series.

Since Durant can become a free agent during the offseason and sign elsewhere, there has been plenty of talk regarding the Warriors dynasty potentially nearing its conclusion. The possibility of guard Klay Thompson leaving in free agency has added to the speculation as well.

KD has been heavily linked to the New York Knicks, and Max Kellerman said on ESPN's First Take this month that he heard Durant and Kyrie Irving joining forces with the Knicks could be a "real thing."

Durant has oftentimes been a dominant force during his three seasons with the Warriors, and he outplayed LeBron James in each of the past two NBA Finals.

Golden State is favored to return to the Finals this season, where Durant may be faced with outshining another superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors, Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers or Irving with the Boston Celtics.

If the Warriors do make it that far, Durant will have a chance to become the first player to win three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards since Shaquille O'Neal did it with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000-2002.

The focus is back on Durant's play for now, but if he and Warriors go back to struggling again at any point during these playoffs, questions about his future will inevitably resurface. Managing that situation could play a big role in whether Golden State is able to three-peat and win its fourth title in five years.

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