“It felt great to get back in the routine and get back on the floor and feel like a player again,” Durant said. “It felt great. Everybody’s texting and calling asking me how I’m feeling. So I can’t wait to get back into the swing of the things so I feel like one of the guys.”
After the game ended, a smiling Durant exchanged hugs with his teammates and several Wizards players, including his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook.
“The beauty of Kevin, obviously on top of all the ability he brings to the game, is his love for the game,” Nash said after the game. “He brings a childlike joy and a love for the game every day when he comes to work. So it’s beautiful to see him back on the basketball court. I think the world missed him out there.”
Irving was not any different, matching Durant shot for shot early on. In the first half, Irving went 7 of 9 from the field for 18 points and added four assists before checking out for good. While Durant is one of the best shot makers in N.B.A. history, Irving is one of the best dribblers the league has ever seen. That ability was on full display Sunday night, as he easily made creative angles on jumpers.
“That’s one of the perks of this position is you get to coach two incredible players,” Nash said. “Ky was super sharp and Kevin, after such an extensive layoff, was very good and close to being incredible. He’s going to keep building and getting comfortable. When you have that kind of injury, it’s kind of remarkable that he’s at the level he’s at.”
Entering the game, there was some intrigue over what kind of offense Irving and Durant wanted to run, as a result of an Instagram Live session the two held Saturday. During their talk, Irving argued that he should receive eight post-ups a game, because of the mismatch he thought it would create.
This would be a highly unconventional use of a point guard, typically the quarterback of the offense from outside the 3-point line. Durant disagreed with Irving’s assessment, saying, “I don’t think that’s good for the continuity of our offense if our point guard always wants to be underneath the rim.” As they to continued to debate the finer points of Irving’s proposal, Durant essentially ended the conversation with, “We’re going to see, though.”