NBA

'I know it's going to be loud in there' – Durant looking forward to first home game in Phoenix

By Sports Desk March 07, 2023

Kevin Durant is glad he got the opportunity to get his "feet wet" on the road with the Phoenix Suns ahead of his home debut Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Suns went 3-0 with Durant in the line-up during their recent road trip, defeating the Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks by a combined margin of 37 points.

Their newly acquired two-time NBA Finals MVP averaged 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists during those games, shooting 69 per cent from the field, 53 per cent from deep and 88 per cent from the free throw line.

Speaking to the media after Tuesday's practice, Durant spoke about how comfortable he is fitting into new situations, highlighting the fact that "everyone runs the same stuff".

"I'm at this point in my career where I've played with some of the best players to ever play," he said. "I've been in Olympic teams, I've been on some of the best All-Star teams, and I've figured out the best way to kind of fit in with a group of guys.

"Once you start to understand the terminology it makes it a bit easier, and you realise everyone runs the same stuff, it's just different players you put in those spots.

"Having communication with your team-mates every day is the most important piece of it all."

Durant, who is coming off his 10th All-NBA selection, touched on what has impressed him with Devin Booker, who emerged as an All-NBA First Team member last season after never previously making the second or third teams.

"'Book' understands exactly what he needs to do every time out on the floor, and once you prepare the right way and know your role, the game can be easy," he said. "The game is easy for Book, and he makes the game easy for all his team-mates as well.

"We've got such an unselfish team, and we want to move the ball a lot and get everybody involved, but he's such a gifted, talented offensive scorer that he can make plays for others, but he can also make plays for himself.

"I felt like a couple of times last game he had a one-on-one opportunity with not a lot of help and he was going downhill, getting whatever he wanted. So we want to exploit that as much as possible, but he's going to play the right way regardless.

"There's going to be more times in the future where I'm probably going to have to tell him to shoot, but that's always a good thing when your best players are willing to give up the ball."

Having only played three games since being traded from the Nets a month ago, Durant said he is looking forward to getting "back to normal".

"I'm glad I was able to get a couple on the road to get my feet wet because I know it's going to be loud in [Footprint Center]," he said. "I'm looking forward to our fans. I know they can't wait to see us out on the floor.

"I'm just trying to get back to normal as soon as possible. I'm glad I'm playing again, and things will get back to normal."

Related items

  • 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr

    Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes there is a "lot of value" in the team keeping their core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson together, as the latter of the trio prepares to hit free agency.

    The Warriors' season came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as they were dumped out of the Play-In Tournament by the Sacramento Kings, falling to a 118-94 defeat to their upstate rivals. 

    It is the third time in the last five seasons that Golden State – who have won four NBA championships under Kerr – have missed out on a playoff berth. 

    That has led to questions being asked about the team's future, and they have a decision to make over Thompson as the 34-year-old prepares to become an unrestricted free agent.

    While the Warriors have outlined their desire to keep Thompson, he has been linked with the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks and says his priority is playing for a championship contender. 

    Speaking at his exit interview on Thursday, Kerr spoke of the difficulties of breaking up great teams and said he was keen to continue working with the Warriors' 'big three'. 

    "It's rarely a storybook," Kerr said. "Even the '96 or '98 Bulls, the team was broken up and we won the championship in our last year but there was a documentary about what a disaster the whole thing was. It's impossible for this stuff to end perfectly.

    "I do think there is a lot of value to having our three guys being Warriors for life. I think there's a lot of value in ending with dignity.

    "For those three, I really want to see all of them finish their careers here, but also finish out their careers with a sense of pride and dignity in what they're doing."

    Much of the Warriors' season was overshadowed by discussions regarding Green's ill-discipline, with the forward being ejected four times in 2023-24.

    Green also missed 16 games after receiving an indefinite suspension for striking Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December, an incident that Kerr described as "unforgivable".

    However, Kerr still believes Green is worth the trouble, saying: "Yet I forgave him. He's one of the most competitive, one of the smartest players I've ever been around. 

    "Yet he makes these decisions that hurt the team, that aren't smart. So how do you reconcile all that? It's really difficult. 

    "The number one thing I would say is, if we decided he wasn't worth it then we would have moved off of him years ago. 

    "But he's worth it and he's worth it not only because of the banners that are hanging out there but because he really is a wonderful human being."

  • Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation

    Kawhi Leonard is questionable for Game 1 of the Los Angeles Clippers' playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks as he continues to be troubled by inflammation in his right knee.

    Leonard has undergone surgeries to repair damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in his right knee in the last few years, having torn his ACL during a second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz in 2021.

    The six-time All-Star has not featured for the Clippers – who clinched the Western Conference's fifth seed – since the end of March, missing their last eight games of the regular season. 

    Speaking ahead of Thursday's practice session, the Clippers' president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said Leonard had work to do to make Sunday's matchup at Crypto.com Arena.

    "He's doing everything, our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play," Frank said. 

    "Progress has been made, but the inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements.

    "There is no gamesmanship here and we're very sensitive of the fact that questions are going to be asked and want to be as transparent as possible. It's okay to say what the truth is. It's unpredictable. 

    "We're hoping it's trending in the right direction. It's a very accurate statement. When it gets to a point where he's able to play, then that's when he'll be back on the court."

    The two-time NBA champion averaged 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds through 68 regular-season appearances in 2023-24, the former figure falling just short of his 23.8 points per game last term.

    Despite Leonard's importance to the Clippers' chances of defeating Luka Doncic and company, Frank says no risks will be taken with his fitness. 

    "In terms of where we're heading, is it possible he could play? Sure, it's possible. It's Thursday. With each day we'll know more and more," Frank said. 

    "Obviously if he's not healthy to play at a certain moment then he won't be out there. When Kawhi is healthy, he plays. 

    "Some things you can't control, regardless of how meticulous he is with his body and everything that goes into playing. You can only control what you can control and you've got to surrender to the things you can't."

  • James not looking to past results ahead of Lakers-Nuggets rematch James not looking to past results ahead of Lakers-Nuggets rematch

    LeBron James believes the media are putting "too much emphasis" on the Los Angeles Lakers' recent history with the Denver Nuggets.

    The Lakers, after their win over the New Orleans Pelicans, will take on the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

    Los Angeles lost to Denver in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, as the Nuggets went on to win the NBA championship.

    The Lakers, meanwhile, defeated the Nuggets en route to winning the championship in 2020.

    James, though, is not looking back at past results as an indicator of how this series might play out.

    "I think you're putting a little bit too much emphasis on it," James said. 

    "This is our first-round matchup. I mean, we're looking forward to the postseason. But I haven't been, like, looking forward to the rematch.

    "The game is played how it's being played, and this is the matchup. So we're looking forward to that challenge.

    "It shouldn't be personal at all. I think you allow yourself to get away from the game plan when you make it too personal.

    "We have a game plan. You go out there and execute it and you live with the results. I'm kind of the last person you should [ask that], I just stay even-keeled.

    "I've been in the postseason way too long in my career to know that you don't get too high off of Game 1 or get too high over whoever the matchup is. You got to just stay even-keeled."

    Lakers coach Darvin Ham did say his team can take lessons from last year's defeat, in particular when focusing on cutting out small errors.

    And James echoed the sentiment.

    "We just got to be better all around," he said. "Obviously, it's a great team that we're playing against. A team that won the championship, so they've been in a lot of big games and know what they want to get to late in games.

    "So we just have to be very disciplined and have our mind into throughout the course of 48 minutes or however long it takes.

    "It's going to be challenging but that's what the postseason is all about. It should be."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.