Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
After an epic meltdown that allowed the Los Angeles Clippers to come back and win Game 2 of their first-round NBA playoff series, the Warriors have been the subject of warranted scrutiny. The defense fell asleep, the offense was reckless and the team became complacent as the Clippers stormed back.
One storyline, however, that is being overblown is that Patrick Beverley is shutting down Kevin Durant, leading to the Warriors' demise.
Let's first start with what Beverley has been effective in doing, and that is contributing to Durant's turnovers and early exits. Beverley has clearly been a pest to Durant, and his constant antics and pressure have gotten under the Warriors star's skin to an extent. Beverley is consistently grabbing, pulling, slapping, hugging, smothering and hounding Durant, putting the pressure on the officials to call fouls on every single play, which they aren't going to do. Because of that, Beverley knows that while he will be called for a few fouls, the refs will swallow their whistle a majority of the time, allowing him to pester Durant for much of the game.
On the flip side, when Durant creates space from Beverley by using a forearm or shoulder a few times a game, the officials have called an offensive foul which has further frustrated Durant.
Furthermore, these plays have put Durant in foul trouble which forced him to make an early exit in Game 2, and caused him to rack up multiple technical fouls in Game 1 when he was ejected.
Beyond those particular scenarios, Durant has been highly efficient scoring the ball and is playing the same way that led to many Warriors victories late in the season. Many are attributing Beverley's defense to Durant's low field-goal attempt totals. But that is not the case, as Durant has not been shooting a high volume of shots for weeks now and it has been working.
In the final weeks of the regular season, Durant had five games in which he shot the ball less than 10 times, and all those games were dominant Warriors wins. He has taken on the role of playmaker, moving the ball in a fast-paced offense while finding specific times to aggressively attack the rim or shoot the ball.
In the final six games of the regular season, Durant averaged only 16.5 points per game. So far after two games in the playoffs, Durant is averaging 22 points per game while shooting a highly-efficient 56 percent from the field. Durant has also taken 18 free-throw attempts in these last two playoff games, as opposed to 11 over the final six regular season games.
Through six and a half quarters to start the series, the Warriors were in absolute control, dominating the Clippers on both sides of the ball. Beverly was hounding Durant that entire time and it had little effect on the Warriors' offense. Over the final quarter and a half, the Warriors fell asleep at the wheel, leading to a Clippers comeback victory.
If Durant did not foul out in Game 2, then theoretically he could have helped the Warriors find a way to secure a win. And Beverley was one of the key reasons that Durant was not in the game.
But overall, Beverley's effect on Durant has been overblown, and it would not be surprising to see Durant emphasize that on the court at Staples Center on Thursday night in Game 3.