Kevin Durant is on a mission to win his first NBA championship, taking his talents to the Bay Area to create a superteam for the ages with the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State hasn't looked back since, even after Durant suffered a scary leg injury after the All-Star break. KD is locked in, playing at peak levels while the Warriors spin their web around an overmatched Cleveland Cavaliers team in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors have a chance to put one of the final nails in the Cavaliers' coffin Wednesday night in Cleveland, on the cusp of pushing their series lead to 3-0. 3-1 jokes are cute, but a 3-0 lead would knock any wind left in the Cavaliers' sails out. That's why Durant needs to be the Slim Reaper in Game 3.
The Warriors didn't bring Durant in just because they could, they brought him in because they had a chance to add an ace mercenary scorer to into their fold. KD may not have found his way to another NBA Finals after LeBron James dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder years ago, but he's only gotten better since then.
Durant's not just an afterthought
Durant is definitely not the Warriors one-and-only leader, but he's also not just a co-star. He's one of the greatest players to put an NBA uniform on in the last decade.
This is KD's chance to remind everyone that he's not just riding coattails, but carrying his team when he needs it. It was easy to see when he did it in Oklahoma City, but on a star-studded cast he can almost seem lost in the shuffle.
That hasn't been the case thus far, though, with Durant absolutely dominating through the first two games of the series. Taking a killer instinct with a chance to deal a devastating blow to the Cavaliers is exactly what Durant needs to do.
It's been a clinic from Durant, showing why he's still widely-considered the most lethal scorer in the NBA today. The NBA Finals have been a showcase for Durantula.
Sealing the deal
The Warriors know a 2-0 isn't safe after the collapse they suffered last year. Back-to-back games on the road with the series shifting to Ohio is a big deal, and it opens the door just enough for LeBron to come bursting through.
Golden State needs to go into Game 3 with a Game 7 mentality, playing with the weight of having a chance to put James in a position he has almost no chance scraping back from. The Cavaliers are sure to come out swinging with their home crowd behind them.
Durant needs to be Floyd Mayweather, though, and dodge those punches while meticulously picking the Cavaliers apart one jab at a time. Winning Game 3 against a Cavaliers team with its back against the wall, finally home after getting drubbed by the Dubs in Oakland, would be huge.
There's no reason, on paper, for the Warriors to lose this series or even this game. Durant could be en route to a championship and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy if he puts his stamp on Game 3 and crushes the little-hope left for Cleveland.
A new era
Durant, turning 29 next season, has been in the conversation as the second-best player in the NBA for seemingly his entire career. LeBron has overshadowed him, with titles and accolade that have eclipsed nearly every competitor.
James is turning 33 by the end of the year, and Durant is set to enter the peak of his peak, so to speak. While a Game 3 victory doesn't come attached with a Larry O'Brien trophy, holding off a desperate LeBron facing almost certain elimination with a loss is a big deal for KD.
The narrative will begin to turn on their career arcs if Durant carries Golden State to a victory Wednesday night. Suddenly Durant is on his way to building a dynasty in the NBA while James and the rest of the NBA are stuck looking for answers to solve the riddle that is the Warriors.
KD needs to rise to the occasion when his team needs him the most, and they've never needed him more than they do in Game 3. The 14-0 record through the playoffs means nothing without a title, and pushing that number up to 15 is significant.
It's a chance for a career-defining performance from Durant, who's always been the apple of many an NBA fan's eye. He's never had more eyes on him than now, though, and dominating Game 3 would be a huge message from KD.
Everything Durant put himself through when he decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder behind for golden pastures with the Warriors comes down to notching two more victories over the Cavaliers. It's his chance to cement himself as more than a co-star to Curry and the guys, but as the best all-around player in the NBA today.