He has played 14 NBA seasons, which is longer than Larry Bird played. He was in the NBA when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen were preaching Ubuntu and winning a championship. Kevin Durant has been around so long, he actually played for the Seattle SuperSonics.
But in Wednesday’s 114-107 loss to the Celtics, Durant — for the first time in his career — looked old.
“KD is in the Boston Celtics Correctional Facility,’’ tweeted Durant’s former Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins. “The Celtics did the same damn thing they did in Game 1 and that’s get physical with KD and Punk’d him.’’
Durant has made only 13 of 41 shots in the first two games of this series. He’s looked nothing like young KD in Oklahoma City or the world champion KD in Golden State. He’s looked more like Morgan Freeman in “The Shawshank Redemption.’’
“They’re doing a good job of trying to cut off my scoring and limit my shot-making,’’ Durant acknowledged. “Two or three people contest. They’re doing a good job so it’s up to me to figure it out.”
The ball-hawking Celtics — who believe they are championship bound — have taken Durant’s lunch money thus far. Durant’s shooting and turnovers have been a big problem for Brooklyn.
KD shot 9 for 24 with six turnovers in Game 1 Sunday.
That can’t happen again, we all said.
It did. Durant was 4 for 17 from the floor in Game 2. He committed six turnovers, including three at the start of the second half when the Celtics took back the momentum. Durant finished with 27 points, but only because he made 18 of 20 free throws.
Thirty two percent from the floor? Over two games? For the guy Tom Brady helped recruit for the Celtics in the Hamptons when KD was selling his service in the summer of 2016?
By any measure, KD is one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He’s averaged 27.2 points per game in his illustrious career. He’s a 7-footer who shoots the long ball as well as Steph Curry. He’s an offensive weapon unlike any we’ve seen in 75 years of the National Basketball Association. He’s been unguardable.
Ime Udoka’s defensive scheme has been masterful. Durant is swarmed by at least two Celtics every time he catches the ball. Jayson Tatum is in his face. When KD turns, Al Horford switches off or Marcus Smart comes in from the side and knocks the ball out of Durant’s hands.
“They’re playing two or three guys on me when I get the ball,’’ said Durant. “That’s the nature of the beast in the playoffs. I see a few of their guys around me every time I get the ball. I’ve got to be more patient . . . They’re basically playing a zone. We have to fight over stuff and execute the game plan.’’
Boston fans flocked to the Garden to jeer Kyrie Irving, who had flipped the bird to the Garden crowd multiple times in Sunday’s 1-point Celtic victory. But the frothing mob stopped worrying about Kyrie as the night went on. Like his all-world teammate, Kyrie was more than neutralized by the Celtic flypaper defense. Irving finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Kyrie was minus-9. KD was minus-10.
“Ime [an assistant with the Nets last year] knows us really well,’’ acknowledged Irving. " . . . I don’t want to put it just on Kev. It’s a team game. For myself, I take accountability. I need to make it easier for him and I can do that. It’s not going to be easy, but it can be done . . . they’re doing a great job of contesting our pull-ups and making sure we don’t get open looks.’’
Brooklyn led, 62-45, late in the second quarter, which means that the final score represents a 24-point turnaround for the Celtics.
It’s always said that an NBA playoff series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game. But at this hour it’s hard to see the Nets coming back from Games 1 and 2. They are not going to get younger before Saturday’s Game 3.
“We don’t have time to be disappointed,’’ said Irving. “We’ve just got to be better moving forward. We’re going against a team that’s been together for the last five or six years. We have to strap on the boots and get the ammo ready.’’
And Kevin Durant has to figure out a way to solve Boston’s defense.