- Ezra Shaw/Getty
The Golden State Warriors have a convincing 2-0 series lead on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, thanks in large part to Kevin Durant.
Thus far, Durant has been the best player on the floor in these Finals, acting as a lethal catch-and-shoot option, playmaker, one-on-one scorer, and defender.
LeBron James succinctly described the difference in these Warriors after Game 1: “K.D.”
Indeed, the replacement of Harrison Barnes with Durant has been effective for the Warriors. Barnes slumped in last year’s Finals and shot just 35% from the field, 31% from three. The Cavs were able to drift off Barnes to help defend Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. That’s not the case with Durant.
According to ESPN, in two games, Durant has already scored more points than Barnes did in seven games.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo: Durant’s 71 pts in 2 gms have already eclipsed the 65 that Harrison Barnes scored in the 7 Finals gms combined last year
— Chris Herring (@Herring_NBA) June 5, 2017
In seven games last year, the Cavs outscored the Warriors by a mere four points, showing how incredibly close and intense the series was. Add Durant’s efficient offensive attack to the Warriors, and it’s easy to see how lopsided these Finals may become.
Barnes was a solid role player for the Warriors, but his production simply can’t compare to Durant’s. Last year, the Warriors got this from Barnes, and the Cavs gladly accepted it.
Now it’s been replaced by this:
The Warriors have outscored the Cavs by a whopping 37 with Durant on the floor this series. Last year, they were outscored by 32 with Barnes on the floor.
There are other differences in this series, and it’s not Barnes’ fault the Warriors lost last year’s Finals. It isn’t a stretch, however, to suggest swapping Barnes with Durant has turned the Warriors into another animal completely.