Kevin Durant acknowledges the challenge of PJ Tucker
The Golden State Warriors superstar forward acknowledges that the Houston Rockets stocky undersized forward will bring it on as his primary defender as the rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals begins on Monday.
Durant went on to praise Tucker’s defense and expects this inevitable match-up with Tucker to another tough challenge for him.
“P.J. Tucker’s an awesome defender,” Durant said per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “Awesome. He’s one of those guys at the end of my career, I’m going to put him up there, one of those guys that made me work. So I got my work cut out.”
With Trevor Ariza gone, the Rockets will have to rely on more on Tucker to try to defend Durant.
While the 6-foot-6 Tucker gives up around six inches to the nearly 7-foot offensive savant, he certainly makes up for it with his heft and hard-nosed effort.
Still, the height disparity is hard to ignore, as Durant can simply just shoot over him.
Nevertheless, the Rockets will have to come up with certain schemes and defensive strategies to contain Durant in this series. Playing him one-on-one could spell doom for their chances to knock off the defending champions.
The Warriors’ first round opponents, the Los Angeles Clippers tried to establish different coverages and schemes for Durant. Unfortunately, none of them worked as Durant simply dominated them, especially through Game 3 to 6.
The two-time Finals MVP is on a roll in these 2019 playoffs so far. Durant averaged 35.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists and shot an absurd 56.7 percent clip through six games against the Clippers in round one.
If the Rockets think Tucker can make life difficult for KD, Durant can also be a nightmare match-up for Tucker on defense with the way he is focused and locked in on offense right now.