OAKLAND -- Two games into the NBA Finals, the biggest names on the marquee are living up to the billing, though Warriors superstar Kevin Durant is making an impressive case for being equal to, and maybe above, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
And it’s not exactly new, either.
Durant’s latest performance in a 132-113 victory in Game 2 on Sunday was even more fantastic than his work in Game 1, which was nothing less than tremendous.
“He’s a reason why we’re able to be who we are,” Warriors teammate Shaun Livingston said.
Durant’s Game 2 statistics: a game-high 33 points (13-of-22 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from deep, 3-of-3 from the line), a game-high 13 rebounds, a game-high five blocks and a game-high-tying three steals.
No player in league history has posted across-the-board numbers that were equal to, much less better than, those in a Finals game.
It was James who matched Durant’s steals total but even in posting a triple-double (29 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds) in Game 2 was, on the whole, a level below.
And Durant was coming off a Game 1 in which he totaled 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 113-91 Warriors victory.
It’s enough to take Draymond Green back to the game on Jan. 17, 2014, when Durant, then a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, torched the Warriors for 54 points. He seemed unstoppable that night, and he’s on a similar plane now.
“When you’ve got somebody doing you like that, it's just like a burning fire in their eye and you know you don't stand a chance,” Green said. “But that's like the look that I see in him throughout these Finals.”
If Durant is on a quest, well, it should be understood. James is someone, perhaps the only someone, against whom he measures himself. His personal record against James before becoming a Warrior was 4-17, including the 2012 Finals, in which James and the Miami Heat defeated the Thunder in five games -- despite Durant posting individual numbers generally superior to those of James.
Since joining the Warriors last summer, though, it’s 3-1, the teams splitting two games in the regular season and the Warriors winning Games 1 and 2 of The Finals.
Durant’s averages over the last four duels: 32.0 points (54.0 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from deep), 10.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.3 blocks.
James’ averages: 27.0 points (50.0 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from deep), 11.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.0 block.
If Durant offsets James in these Finals, the Warriors win a championship.
If Durant outperforms James, the Warriors cruise to the top.
“He’s championship basketball,” Livingston said of Durant. “That’s what he’s been playing. You can tell he’s a man on a mission.
“Offensively, that’s what the world sees but what I see is defensively, he’s changing the game. Five blocks tonight and even more shots at the rim that he caused them to miss or alter.”