NBA fans have been waiting for it all season, and it’s almost here. Kevin Durant will make his not-so-triumphant return to Oklahoma City this Saturday, as the Warriors (44-8) take on the Thunder (30-23) at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Durant and the Warriors, though, haven’t said much about it.
“Not really too much,” Warriors radio voice Tim Roye said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think (they will) as we get closer. It’s going to be an emotional night. It’s one for Kevin Durant that I’m sure he’s both looking forward to and maybe dreading a little bit. But it happens to every great player. When they leave that team, they have to do that trip home. At some point, it just happens.”
Durant has meshed well with the Warriors. He leads the team in scoring (25.7 points per game), rebounding (8.4) and blocks (1.7).
“I think he really appreciates what the guys do, and I think that he is enjoying basketball in a very high way,” Roye said. “My phrase early in the season was the biggest thing he’s going to have to get used to is that when he gives the ball up, it will come back. I think it’s hard for a scorer to get used to that, and I think the Warriors went out of their way to make sure he fit in. I think he kind of fits in with the vibe of this team. He’s a good guy. At his core, he’s an unselfish guy. They’re like that, and they enjoy playing with each other. For him, it’s been a lot of fun. I think the focus in Oklahoma City was entirely on him and Westbrook. Those were the two key players, the two star players of the team. This team has three or four guys that kind of share that load, and I think that also has maybe eased his off-the-court burden, if you will.”
Steph Curry is averaging 25.3 points, while Klay Thompson is averaging 21.5. When you have three scorers who are all capable of going off for 40 – or 50 or 60 – you would think there would be a lot of drama about shots and touches.
There hasn’t been.
“When one guy gets hot, everybody else makes sure they get him the ball,” Roye said. “Of the three big scorers – Curry, Durant, and Thompson – all three were averaging 17 shots a game (entering Wednesday). That just tells you that if Steph gets hot, they let Steph go. On nights where Klay gets hot, he gets the ball. When Durant’s got it going, he gets the ball. They’re making a real strong case to each other that, hey, my ego is not in this. One for he selling points for Durant coming over was he was a little worried about Steph, and Steph went out of his way and there’s a story that he texted him and said, ‘I don’t care who wins the MVP. I don’t care who wins the scoring title. I just care about trying to win a championship.’ I think that kind of vibe, that kind of attitude, is really what he was looking for. I think having played against the Warriors last year in the playoffs, he saw how much fun they have playing together even in big games like the Western Conference Final. I think that kind of opened his eyes a little bit as to maybe this is a place I want to go to.”