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Kevin Durant Had a Quiet Game 3, and a Legacy-Making Two Minutes

The KD narrative hit an inflection point in the fourth quarter

(AP Images/Ringer illustration)
(AP Images/Ringer illustration)

The 2017 Finals have belonged to Kevin Durant. Cleveland has had no answer for him, and I can only assume that LeBron James’s 2015 nightmares about Andre Iguodala have been replaced with new ones about the man once known (for a very short time) as the Slim Reaper. Kevin Durant is a problem — not only for the Cavs, but also for everyone intent on hating Durant for choosing Golden State. But even the most ardent of haters have to admit that seeing Durant fully unlock his offensive gifts while challenging LeBron is a whole lot of fun.

Wednesday’s Game 3 seemed poised to restore the momentum on questioning Durant. Through three quarters, the Cavs didn’t stop KD, but they did find a way to contain him. To the extent that it’s possible, he had a very quiet 31 points (with a minus-11) … at least until the final frame. To that point, it was a meh game from Durant and the Cavs were poised to get back into the series.

And then Durant God Mode was activated. He checked in with 9:30 to go in the game. The next eight minutes were cool, a nice final chapter on the most exciting game of the Finals. But really, all that mattered was this:

To be clear, that’s Kevin Durant, with his team down two, pulling up for 3 in front of the best player in the world and nailing it. All of the clichés applied: He had ice in his veins; he was unconscious; he blacked out; he was cold-blooded. Durant delivered the most important win of the Warriors’ season, and for those keeping track, needed less than 12 minutes to bring his plus-minus back up to zero.

A few hours earlier at Ringer HQ, we debated what Kevin Durant needed to do to permanently quiet everyone who is resentful of Golden State’s dominance. This is it. He’s a young man in the middle of his prime who knows what heroics — and pitfalls — await him. But Durant punished his team’s nemesis, handing Cleveland a devastating loss on the level of the Golden State’s last year, all the while keeping the 16–0 dream alive with a 118–113 win. The Warriors haven’t avenged anything yet, but Kevin Durant is already living his dream. Game 3 is precisely why Kevin Durant chose this team.