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After a one-man Kyrie Irving show in Game 1’s buzzer-beater loss, a wildly underwhelming Game 2, and last night’s mind boggling no-show performance, many are questioning the heart
of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. There’s no denying his skillset, and we don’t think anyone would dare do that, however some are suggesting Durant quit on the Nets.
Kendrick Perkins said just that on a postgame show last night.
“The Celtics snatched the Nets’ soul,” Perkins said. “They’re Punk’ing them. They punted KD. They made Kevin Durant quit. He had no interest whatsoever in playing this game. Some people were saying KD and Kyrie were the most skilled duo of all-time and what did we just witness? We watched the Boston Celtics make both of those guys quit.”
Those are some strong words from the former Celtics big man, but the man’s got a point. Boston imposed their will on both Durant and Irving all night allowing just 28 shot attempts between the two scorers. There’s no way that can happen unless there’s an injury we need to know about.
"The Celtics have snatched the Nets soul… they done made Kevin Durant quit." –@KendrickPerkins didn't mince words after the Celtics win pic.twitter.com/OJfOZ92Z2r
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) April 24, 2022
Is Kendrick Perkins right, though? There’s really no telling whether or not the duo were shell shocked or if that Celtics defense just took over the series. Basketball back in the 1990’s routinely saw some of the game’s most elite scorers like Michael Jordan stifled by a defense and no one fixed their mouths to say he quit, did they?
We chalked those low-80’s scoring games from MJ’s Bulls as tenacious defense getting the best of great players as excellent defense has the potential to do. Yet when Durant and Kyrie struggle to figure out a defense, they “quit.” Not saying that’s what we think happened, however we have to play devil’s advocate when calling out a player’s character or willingness to compete. Claiming a player quit needs some concrete evidence before we can give the claim any legs, but to Perkins’ credit, there was one major indicator present:
A lack in shot attempts — from both players. Kevin Durant means to tell us he gave his best effort in a do-or-die game 3 on his home floor attempting just 11 shots in 45 minutes and 54 seconds of play? Irving — same thing. He took 17 shots in his roughly 43 minutes of run. A little better attempt out of Kyrie there, but these guys had to get their shots up in this game if they were ever going to come.
There’s a major difference in getting shut down offensively being forced into contested jumpers all night and failing to finish those attempts with makes. Kevin Durant refusing to take those shots looks a lot like quitting when you’re known as arguably the greatest scorer ever. A 7-foot small forward thats known for getting to his spots for shot attempts at will. Again, can’t say he quit, however the numbers tell a story that he was scared into his shell, and that can’t happen.
Celtics’ Jayson Tatum stole the show tonight with 39 points and tenacious defense piling six steals on the night. The Nets as a whole racked up 18 turnovers and Tatum’s length defensively, efforts from Defensive Player Of The Year Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown’s monstrous effort were key reasons why. This contest looked a ton like the 2011 Dallas Mavericks steam rolling Kobe Bryant’s Lakers in a sweep and then going on to rain on LeBron James’ party in the NBA Finals to beat the Miami Heat in six games.
We’d have to imagine the Nets give this group another run next year with Ben Simmons in the mix, but if Kendrick Perkins’ take is believed in that Nets front office, maybe Durant hits the road elsewhere?