At long last, Kevin Durant will make his return to the Bay Area when the Brooklyn Nets face off against the Warriors at Chase Center on Saturday.
While his reunion will lack a grand celebration with no fans in the arena, from a basketball standpoint, there probably couldn’t be a more intriguing time for the two squads to face off.
The Warriors (14-12) are riding high on a three-game win streak, and Steph Curry is riding even higher. In fact, Curry’s play of late is eerily reminiscent to his NBA MVP days, and Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash has taken notice.
The Nets (15-12) are still configuring new team chemistry since acquiring eight-time NBA All-Star James Harden in January, and they’ve been sans Durant for the last week due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
However, Durant is set to return just in time for Saturday’s showdown, and even though the Warriors look vastly different from his time in the Dubs’ dynasty, he still knows what to expect from his old squad and his old coach. (h/t Nets Daily).
“They’re playing fast-paced,” Durant said to reporters about the Warriors after practice Friday. “They’re going to move the basketball at a high clip. Steph is shooting the basketball just as well as he’s ever shot it, probably. Feels like the basket is wide open for him. He’s giving a lot of players confidence with his shot making, giving Steve (Kerr) confidence as a coach when he’s making shots like that.”
True, Curry has put on some otherworldly performances lately, and his confidence is surging down to his teammates. Curry posted a 40-point performance in Golden State’s 111-105 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday, and was shooting so well from deep that Juan Toscano-Anderson started celebrating his shot before the basket even counted.
With DeAndre Jordan reportedly out for Saturday’s match-up, the Nets could deploy a small-ball center gameplan, much like the Warriors in recent games, as centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney battle back from respective injuries. Durant however will be a “full go” in his first game back, according to Nash, and Golden State’s defense should get a tough test in guarding the trifecta of Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving.
When Golden State squared off against Brooklyn on Opening Night, the result was a forgettable 125-99 blowout for the Warriors. Now, after nearly two months, round two likely will look much different. Durant knows it, too.
“It should be a different game than it was the first game,” Durant said. “Obviously, we incorporated James (Harden) into our lineup. So we’ll see how it goes, and I’m looking forward to the competition.”
Curry, the Warriors and NBA fans alike certainly are too. After Thursday’s win, Curry told reporters his and Durant’s run with the Warriors was “some of the best basketball the world has seen.”
While the two no longer share a locker room, they’ll share the hardwood Saturday, and with both teams looking to make a breakout, it surely will be a must-see game.