This was a year that was supposed to end with a championship.
A team built like that should easily steamroll through the competition.
However, we are never prepared for injuries to occur.
Harden suffered a strained hamstring within the first minute of the series.
He tried to play in the last three games of the series, but was clearly limited.
Irving sprained his ankle in Game 4 and had to miss the rest of the series.
Durant became the lone wolf for the Nets and had to carry them along for the ride.
He was phenomenal throughout the playoffs, but this series was a career-defining moment.
Granted, he ended up losing the series on a missed game-tying three-pointer.
However, his performance and gutsiness were tremendous.
Durant proved a lot to the basketball world.
He Proved That He Is Not Done
Some believed that the superstar was never going to be the same player he once was.
Durant was returning from an Achilles tear two years ago.
That injury is usually a death sentence for older NBA players.
He is 32 years old and recovering from other injuries outside of the Achilles as well.
However, Durant showed up this postseason and performed beyond any level we expected.
Regardless of his health issues, he still played a high total of minutes in the Milwaukee Bucks series.
The last three games were a war for both sides.
Durant had to play nearly every minute in each of those games.
All of this came while averaging 30-plus points per game.
Kevin Durant's 48 points are the most points scored in a Game 7 in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/jtJYZMEgw1
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) June 20, 2021
We usually see players that come back from this injury and they are not the same.
They tend to be inefficient, can’t score, or can’t get lift off the ground.
Durant was none of that.
He controlled the game and was amazing; even in defeat.
He Might Be The Best Player
After not seeing Durant for an entire season, we forgot about his ranking within the league.
We love to try and figure out who are the best players in the league.
Durant was one of those guys a few years ago.
However, that injury made us forget.
We now know where he should be when we talk about the best of the best.
Durant needs to be a top-three player in everyone’s ranking until proven otherwise.
Players across the league realize that notion as well.
His opponent in the second round, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is a two-time MVP in his own right.
He praised Durant after the series and claimed he was the best player in the league.
“I said it a couple of days ago, he’s the best player in the world, and he’s still the best player in the world.”
– Giannis on Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/9h6IvdNGe9
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) June 20, 2021
The respect is there now.
He has proven that he is still a top-tier superstar in the NBA.
Durant is not drifting away from the upper echelon of the league.
This postseason was a masterclass performance by him as his team was hindered by injuries.
Durant is one of the greatest players we have ever seen and this playoff run was proof of that.NEXT: How Kevin Durant Is Changing His Legacy This Postseason