NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant admitted Saturday night that he has been “thinking too much” throughout the first-round series against the Boston Celtics and that it has been a factor in his poor play.
After being held to 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in a 109-103 loss that put the Nets in an 0-3 series hole, Durant is managing 36.5% (19-for-52) from the field in three straight losses to the Celtics and has not been able to find any rhythm against Boston’s tenacious defense.
“I was just thinking too much to be honest, this whole series,” Durant said. “Like how I approach the game. We got another game to play, another opportunity, and I’m looking forward to that.”
After averaging over 30 points a game through March and April, Durant is putting up just 22 points per contest over the first three games of this series. The Celtics have made it a point to be physical with Durant throughout the series and have thrown body after body at him to slow him down.
“I feel like the first two games I was trying to be too aggressive,” Durant said. “A team that’s loading up on me, that’s trying to take me out of all my actions. I felt like I was still trying to force the first two games and watching film, a lot of my teammates were open and they were knocking down shots, so I felt my approach to this game was to play off of everybody — get in the flow of the offense and let the ball move and find me.”
Durant said part of the reason the Celtics have been so successful against him is because “they got more size than us.” He was reflective after Saturday’s loss while acknowledging this isn’t the first time in his career he felt he was thinking too much on the floor.
“Every team I’ve been on, you’re just trying to figure out the best way to play,” Durant said. “When you got good teammates around you as well, you’re trying to figure out, I try to figure out how I can be the best version of myself and also not getting in my teammates’ way. Sometimes I think too much about it. Sometimes I need to go out there and just [have] no thoughts in my head and just play.
“I feel like I prepared myself the right way. It’s a matter of the small decisions in the game that may not go in my favor. I thought I found my teammates better than I did the last two games. I just need to score more.”
After Game 3, Durant, Nets coach Steve Nash and the rest of his teammates were left searching for answers that they didn’t have. Nash attributed Durant’s struggles to “a little bit of everything.”
“Clearly they’re loading up on him, sending bodies to him, being physical with him. … I think it’s the unforced turnovers,” Nash said. “I don’t think Kevin has to go off. We shot a good percentage, we moved the ball. It’s just the ones that we just gave up. Poor decision-making, not connecting, simple passes and they’re going the other way. That, to me, has been the difference in all three games.”
Durant has committed 12 turnovers over the first three games of this series. As a team, the Nets have committed 48. Veteran forward Blake Griffin said the Nets didn’t have “the right spirit throughout the entire game” on Saturday.
“I’m pretty sure K has had games in his past where he hasn’t played as well as he wanted to,” Nets guard Kyrie Irving said. “I’ve had games like that. … And that’s just this game of basketball. It’s a game of averages, man. And you guys know better than me just watching from the sidelines that these things can happen at a change of a game where a guy’s coming in hot and there’s just a cold spell.”
Irving added: “But it’s no time to hold your head or point fingers. Just got to go back home and get the bulletproof vest on.”
Durant, who played 46 minutes in Saturday’s loss, is averaging 43 minutes a game over the first three games of this series. He refused to let the extra minutes be an excuse for his poor performance.
“I don’t think fatigue set in,” Durant said. “I feel good playing. I’m not winded. My body doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t blame it on that.”
Asked how he can find his rhythm, Durant said he could “maybe shoot more.” With the Nets one game away from elimination, Durant won’t need any motivation to be ready for Game 4.
“Man, we know what it is,” Durant said. “I don’t think no speech or anything will do it at this part of the year. You know what it is — we down 3-0. … On Monday, we’ll come out and play.”