If you needed a reminder as to why an already stacked Warriors team went ahead and added a former NBA Most Valuable Player over the summer, look no further than Golden State’s 102-91 Game 3 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
On a night where the Warriors’ back court went cold, Kevin Durant shouldered the load, scoring 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the field. The Jazz had no answer for Durant in the pick-and-roll, and he picked them apart, pulling up for a mid-range jump shot time and time again.
He singlehandedly pulverized a Utah team in desperate need of a win to prevent an almost inevitable series sweep in Game 4.
Stephen Curry scored 23 points, but shot 6-of-20 to get there. Klay Thompson had one of his worst shooting nights of his career, putting up only six points on one-of-nine shooting. Their combined woes made for a game that was closer than it needed to be from end-to-end.
It didn’t matter. Durant did exactly what the Warriors expected him to do when they inked him to a two-year, $54 million deal last summer. Golden State envisioned Durant, a player of unique size, skill and shooting ability, giving opposing defenses nightmares with his unrivaled capacity to score in a one-on-one situation.
He did just that against the Jazz, putting the exclamation point on the game with his final bucket: a crossover, fadeaway bank-shot on the three-point line over Gordon Hayward’s arms.
That’s why the Warriors just aren’t fair
This Golden State team rattled off 14 straight wins without Durant when he went down with an MCL sprain in March. They held their own without the star forward in their first-round series against Portland, when he sat two games with a left calf strain.
Durant’s only played eight games since returning from that sprain, but he looks back at MVP form already. That’s the scariest part. It doesn’t matter if Curry and Thompson have awful games. Durant will always be able to get his own bucket. His size and skill make for an impossible check for most teams.
That’s why most people were outraged at his decision to join the league’s best team last season. Durant’s already the league’s best scorer. And putting him next to a two-time MVP on a championship team running a system tailor-made to their strengths just isn’t fair.
Need more proof? Well, ask the Jazz.