Kevin Durant's historic 49-point triple-double helped power the Brooklyn Nets past the Milwaukee Bucks in a pivotal Game 5 of their East semifinal series on Tuesday night. And for some reason, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league's former Defensive Player of the Year, wasn't tasked with guarding him.
The Bucks' superstar forward even welcomed the challenge of trying to stop Durant, as he told reporters following Game 5 that he's ready to defend the "best player in the world right now" if asked by coach Mark Budenholzer.
But will Antetokounmpo match up against Durant in a do-or-die Game 6 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Thursday night? NBA on TNT sideline reporter Jared Greenberg isn't exactly convinced.
"It needs to be Giannis. And if I'm Giannis, I need to raise my hand in the huddle and say, 'I don't care what's being drawn up, it's me.' But there's a fatigue factor here," Greenberg told The Zach Gelb Show on Wednesday. "Listen, give him credit for this... he plays so darn hard and gives it his all on both sides of the basketball, that it ultimately costs him. When you watch him in these games -- I keep an eye on him during timeouts when there's a commercial on TV -- and he's in the huddle and he's usually distant from his team, he's just exhausted and gassed. Absolutely gassed.
"And I think [the Bucks] believe that his value is so much more important on the offensive end, that if they were to put him on Durant on the defensive end, that may impact him on the offensive end more than is already happening for a man who's so involved in every play and playing so hard. But to me, you're kind of right -- he's one of the most talented players in the league. He's won two MVP's, he's won a Defensive Player of the Year award. At this point, you've got to figure out a way to just get through it...
"And you've got to think his length, he's the one guy who has the potential -- with his wingspan -- to really truly affect Kevin Durant on those shots he takes... Kevin Durant is such a unicorn. He's a 7-footer essentially playing point guard for the Nets, and he's shooting over everyone, and there's nothing most people can do to contest his shot. The one guy who probably could contest Kevin Durant's jump shot is a guy like Giannis."
Through 10 postseason games, Durant is averaging a team-high 33.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals. According to Stats by STATS, he's the first player in history to score 45-plus points, record a triple-double, rack up multiple blocks and steals, and make four-plus threes all in the same game.
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled to tip-off at 8:30 p.m. ET. Brooklyn currently has a 75-percent chance of advancing to the East Finals for the first time since 2003, per FiveThirtyEight's projections.
The entire NBA conversation between Greenberg and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.