NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant admitted Saturday night that he has been “thinking too much” during the first-round series against the Boston Celtics and that it has been a factor in his poor play.
After being limited to 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in a 109-103 loss that put the Nets in an 0-3 hole in the series, Durant shoots 36.5% (19-of-52) from the field in three straight losses. to the Celtics and hasn’t been able to find a rhythm against Boston’s tenacious defense.
“I was overthinking it to be honest, this whole series,” Durant said. “I like how I approach the game. We’ve got another game to play, another chance, and I’m looking forward to it.”
After averaging more than 30 points per game through March and April, Durant has amassed just 22 points per contest through the first three games of this series. The Celtics have made an effort to be physical with Durant throughout the series and have thrown him body after body to slow him down.
“I feel like the first couple of games he was trying to be too aggressive,” Durant said. “A team that’s charging at me, that’s trying to get me out of all my actions. I felt like I was still trying to force the first two games and watching video, a lot of my teammates were open and they were knocking down shots, so I felt like my approach to this game was to play everybody — get into the flow of the offense and let the ball move and find me.”
Durant said part of the reason the Celtics have been so successful against him is because “they’re bigger than us.” He reflected after Saturday’s loss and acknowledged that this is not the first time in his career that he feels he was thinking too much on the court.
“Every team I’ve been on, you’re just trying to figure out the best way to play,” Durant said. “When you also have good teammates around you, you’re trying to figure out, I’m trying to figure out how I can be the best version of myself and also not get in the way of my teammates. Sometimes I think too much about it sometimes. I need to go out and just [have] I have no thoughts in my head and just play.
“I feel like I prepared in the right way. It’s a matter of small decisions in the game that may not go in my favor. I thought I found my teammates better than the last two games. I just need to score more.”
After Game 3, Durant, Nets coach Steve Nash and the rest of their teammates were left searching for answers they didn’t have. Nash attributed Durant’s struggles to “a little bit of everything.”
“Clearly, they’re carrying him, throwing bodies at him, being physical with him … I think it’s the unforced turnovers,” Nash said. “I don’t think Kevin has to go out. We shot a good percentage, we moved the ball. It’s just the ones we just left. Bad decision making, not connecting, simple passes and they go the other way.” That, for me, has been the difference in the three games.”
Durant has committed 12 turnovers in the first three games of this series. As a team, the Nets have committed 48. Veteran forward Blake Griffin said the Nets didn’t have “the right spirit the whole game” on Saturday.
“I’m pretty sure K has had games in the past where he didn’t play as well as he wanted to,” Nets guard Kyrie Irving said. “I’ve had games like that … And that’s just this basketball game. It’s a game of averages, man. And you guys know better than I do just looking from the sidelines that these things can happen on a one-game turnaround in the that a guy comes in hot and there’s just a cold snap.”
Irving added: “But this is not the time to hold my head or point fingers. I just have to go home and put on my bulletproof vest.”
Durant, who played 46 minutes in Saturday’s loss, is averaging 43 minutes per game through the first three games of this series. He refused to let the extra minutes be an excuse for his poor performance.
“I don’t think fatigue will come,” Durant said. “I feel good playing. I don’t get out of breath. My body doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t blame him for that.”
Asked how he can find his rhythm, Durant said “maybe I could shoot more.” With the Nets one game from elimination, Durant won’t need any motivation to be ready for Game 4.
“Man, we know what it is,” Durant said. “I don’t think any speech or anything is going to be enough at this time of the year. You know what it is: We lose 3-0… On Monday, we go out and play.”