The Brooklyn Nets, injury-riddled and vulnerable, desperately needed star Kevin Durant to be a bona fide hero against the Milwaukee Bucks in a pivotal Game 5 of their East semifinal series. And he duly obliged.
Durant's performance on Tuesday night at Barclays Center was arguably the best of his career, as he recorded a triple-double of 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists in Brooklyn's 114-108 win over Milwaukee. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Durant became the first player in NBA history to score 45 points, rack up 15 boards, and dish out 10 assists in a playoff game.
During Wednesday's edition of the Tiki and Tierney show, Tiki lauded Durant for his historic performance, and carrying the load while stakes were high.
"I'll never doubt Kevin Durant again, because I can always go back and reference this game," Tiki said. "Late in this game -- maybe late third quarter, into the fourth quarter -- we saw Kevin Durant also do what I didn't think he was capable of doing: that is be an elite facilitator. Be a guy who, not only is handling the ball and bringing it up the court, but dribbling and driving and kicking and going through traffic. I mean, he's 6-foot-10 -- it's hard to dribble through traffic when you're 6-foot-10, simply because the ball comes up a lot higher.
"But he had that perfect lean, the dexterity and the elusiveness, getting to the rim and dishing to Jeff Green, who also had the game of the playoffs for a bench player... Kevin Durant took the challenge that I think a lot of people believed he always ran from... Given the need to carry the team, he did exactly what a great player does. He had an unbelievably great game. This is why I watch basketball. This is why I watch any sport, because I want to see the great players that I come in with an expectation to be exceptional, do exceptional things. And Kevin Durant did that last night. So, hats off to him. I'm not questioning him anymore."
Through 10 postseason games, Durant is averaging a team-high 33.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals.
Game 6 will take place on Thursday night at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, with tipoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Nets currently have a 75-percent chance of advancing to the East Finals for the first time since 2003.
Tiki's complete thoughts on Durant and the Nets can be accessed in the audio player above.