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George: Thunder game plan Durant differently against his defense

George: Thunder game plan Durant differently against his defense

Previously, Pacers swingman Paul George has said that Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks is the toughest player in the Association for him to defend.  ”Pick your poison,” he said last season of guarding Anthony.

Following the Pacers’ 118-94 loss in Oklahoma City, George told reporters that Durant is his toughest cover in the league.

“It is,” he said. “It is a tougher matchup. I watch their games, I watch a lot of NBA games. And offensively, KD is most of the times he’s scoring in bunches off of iso plays and one-on-one plays.

“And when they play against us, he’s moving a lot. He’s the screener, he’s getting back-screened and he’s coming off pin-downs and it’s a little different when I’m guarding him and it makes it a tougher cover.”

Durant finished with a game-high 36 points on 14-of-23 shooting.

Let’s examine Durant’s 14 makes:
1 – Free throw line jumper after a screen off a screen from Russell Westbrook
2 – One-handed jam in transition
3 – 3-pointer from the left arc, on top of Lance Stephenson
4 – A fadeaway jumper off a screen from Serge Ibaka at the top of the key
5 – Isolation play on Stephenson
6 – Layup off Kendrick Perkins screen at the top of the key
7 – 3-pointer on George after a broken play
8 – Durant fakes setting a screen on Hill, then slips to the basket for a wide-open dunk
9 – Pick-and-roll with Westbrook, who then found Durant for a layup
10 – Drive into the lane off a screen from Ibaka on the left arc
11 – 18-foot catch-and-shoot jumper from the left wing off a screen from Derek Fisher
12 – Rebounded his own miss, setup by a screen by a pin-down by Perkins on the right wing
13 – Two-handed flush off the pick-and-roll with Reggie Jackson
14 – Step-back jumper on the pick-and-roll with Westbrook, over Chris Copeland

Durant scored 10 field goals on George, and all but one of them off with assistance of teammates. Seven times it was a screen or pin-down, and two others came off a pick-and-roll with the point guard … way too easy. Durant didn’t score on George on an isolation set.

It was just one of those nights where shots were falling for the Thunder, who made a season-high 61 percent of their field goals.

“I think they were a step quicker in everything they did and everybody on their team made shots,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

Durant’s misses:
1 – isolation on George on left block
2 – corner jumper off a rebound
3 – 3-pointer at the top of the key off a pick-and-roll with Westbrook
4 – left wing jumper off a pin-down from Westbrook
5 – runner off a screen from Perkins
6 – missed open elbow jumper after George double-teamed Westbrook on the baseline
7 – one-on-one drive on Orlando Johnson
8 – isolation on George at the foul line
9 – one-handed runner off a screen from Ibaka

Durant tried to go one-on-one against George twice and failed both times. Four of his misses were also from called screens or pick-and-roll sets.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel firmly believes that George is the best wing defender in the game and the Thunder frequently sending screens to help Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer, helps demonstrate how tough it is to score on George alone.

(My thanks to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman for passing along the quote.)

About The Author


Scott Agness is in his second season as a multimedia contributor for Pacers.com. He delivers articles, blog posts, interviews, and videos. He is a graduate of Indiana University where he was part of broadcasts on the IU Radio Network, Big Ten Network, IUHoosiers.com and WIUX. He is the founder and editor of VigilantSports.com.

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