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Kevin Durant says best-of-7 series vs. Rockets a series they’ll never forget

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has battled through more than just another series with the Golden State Warriors, but also an internal war with his own identity as a player — going from an ultra-effective scoring machine in Game 1 and 2, to a shot-hoisting assassin delving back into his old iso-heavy ways through the rest of the series.

Escaping Houston with a chance to win another championship in the upcoming NBA Finals is surely special, but this series will leave a lasting imprint in Durant’s career.

“It’s just another step, another step in your journey that I can pinpoint, once I’m done playing and say, ‘Well, I went through this, too,’ ” Durant told Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports as he exited the arena after scoring a game-high 34 points. “When I’m talking to a younger player or — who knows? — if I’m coaching in a couple years, 10 to 12 years from now, I’ll have an opportunity to look back and say, ‘The second year I was with the Warriors, we tried to get to a back-to-back championship, going Game 7 in the Western Conference and we won on the road.’ I can say that now. And give back my experience to someone else. It was cool to see us figure it out as a team and break through as a team.”

Nothing was more evident in Durant’s inner battle with himself than his first and second halves of Game 7 — two polar opposites of each other.

First-quarter Durant was a shot-hoisting, free-range All-Star trying to keep his team within striking distance, but struggling to connect and making uncharacteristic mistakes on defense — seemingly disconnected from the game at hand.

Second-quarter Durant demonstrated a poise to his game, more patient and willing to look for the right opportunity, taking advantage of mismatches and showing why he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

More than in any other series, Durant has faced adversity not only as a member of a team, but as an individual — now triumphantly having figured himself out within a series and en route to a second-straight NBA Finals.

“I’m just so happy I get to play again in the Finals,” Durant said. “To go through a Game 7 on the road, to go through that with these guys for the first time, all our first time doing this, it brought us closer as a group and it’s a series that we’ll probably never forget as we get older.”

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