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2014 Western Conference Finals: How to Stop MVP Kevin Durant

By Ronald Agers
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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Now, I know what you are thinking: Air Alamo has three ways to slow down Kevin Durant?

The skinny dude that scores all the points?

Who is this yahoo who thinks that Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar and reigning MVP of the NBA can be slowed?

Well, let me tell you all something, Kevin Durant can’t be stopped totally from scoring. Heck, he’s probably got 20 points, now, as I’m writing this. The thing is that stopping him is not the key to San Antonio winning this series—it’s making him work for everything that he gets.

I remember LeBron James‘ first year with Miami Heat when the team made the NBA Finals three years ago. I said on my radio show that the Heat would lose to the Dallas Mavericks. No one believed me; I made my prediction based on what I’m about to say about Kevin Durant now. As good as he is, he lacks a low-post game.

It was the bug-a-boo for King James then, and it will be the bug-a-boo for Kevin Durant in this series.

Here’s how you slow down MVP Kevin Durant.

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1. Throw stronger athletic bodies at Durant.

Jun 14 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) post up against Miami Heat shooting guard

Dwyane Wade

(3) during the first quarter of game two in the 2012 NBA Finals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

I know the smart money would be putting Kawhi Leonard on him early.

Nope.

Why do that?

Save him for the last five minutes of the game and use him to put in work in crunch time. The Spurs need to save the fouls. If they do start Leonard on Durant, the Spurs need to get him off on the offensive game early.

The best way to slow down a scorer is to get him running around on defense. In my opinion, now that Serge Ibaka is out of the playoffs, try using Danny Green on him, but have him play him tight and force him toward the help where Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan can use their size to make things difficult for him.

Like Kendrick Perkins is an offensive threat.

Now that JaVale McGee is no longer playing, Perkins is always the number one candidate for Shaqtin-A-Fool each week.

Let’s take things to the bench.

Let Boris Diaw lean and push on him, too. He doesn’t look like on paper that he can slow Durant, but he’s smart, has experience and six fouls. If he starts to get into trouble, you can always throw Manu Ginobili at him—his unpredictable game could cause issues for MVP Kevin Durant.

2. Get up under Durant and crowd the daylights out of him.

Mar 21, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) loses the ball against Toronto Raptors forward

John Salmons

(25) and point guard

Kyle Lowry

(7) at Air Canada Centre. The Thunder beat the Raptors 119-118 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant is a perimeter player.

Perimeter players need rhythm.

In the first round of the playoffs versus the Memphis GrizzliesTony Allen attached himself to Durant and stayed in his uniform so much that when Durant’s jersey had to be dry cleaned, Tony Allen had to be shook out of it.

Then, we all saw what happened in the second round when the Thunder battled the Los Angeles Clippers. Doc Rivers switched Chris Paul on Kevin Durant in Game 4. Durant got caught off guard and had trouble adjusting. The Clippers had an epic comeback in a game that they had no business winning.

Two different players, one concept.

What bothers Durant with these  players is that they did not allow Durant to use his dribble to get in rhythm for his jump shot.

In the first round against Memphis Tony Allen used his physicality to force Durant into difficult fade away jumpers. In the second round against LA, Chris Paul stayed attached to Durant as well.

The Clippers further complicated things for Durant bringing a strong and fast double team. Durant had trouble passing out of it and turned the ball over and the Clippers got out on the fast break.

3. If San Antonio does these things…make KD a volume scorer. (Also read…Let him shoot!)

Jan 22, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) before the tip off at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think fans know how difficult it is to shoot 30 times a game with two or three guys draped all over you.

Serge Ibaka is the Thunder’s third best player on the team. That’s about 15 points a game that Oklahoma City has to find in this series. We all know that the offensive burden will fall on two players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

If Durant becomes a volume scorer shooting upwards of 30 shots, two things will happen: One, he will wear down later on in the series. Two, and most importantly Russell Westbrook will get frustrated from not getting shots and start jacking up shots of his own.

If that happens they will freeze the rest of the Thunder players out of the offense and it will grind the offense to a halt. That is what happened in the first round.

If these guys keep firing up jumpers and they aren’t falling, you will have no inside game to worry about in this series.

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