Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Ranking Kevin Durant's greatest career postseason games

Kevin Durant, just two years coming off an Achilles surgery, put on a show in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Playing every second of the contest, the two-time Finals MVP put up the first-ever 45-15-10 triple-double in NBA Playoff history with 49 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and two blocks.

Scoring or assisting on 43 of the team's final 52 points, he led the Nets from as many as 17 down to a pivotal 114-108 Game 5 victory.

MORE: KD's superhuman Game 5 has Twitter buzzing

While this game is certainly up there, this isn't the first time the former league MVP has shown out in the postseason.

That said, let's take a look back at Durant's five greatest playoff performances.

1. 'Remember me?' - Game 5 vs. Bucks, 2021 ECSF

Given the stakes, this is certainly his greatest playoff performance.

The Nets were missing Kyrie Irving, but they welcomed James Harden, who had missed nearly all of the previous games of the series due to hamstring tightness, back to the lineup. So, shorthanded, bruised and with their backs against the wall, the Nets were rescued in a crucial Game 5 by Durant's superhuman performance.

On a night when he didn't feature on any of the All-NBA teams for the 2020-21 season, Durant reminded everyone why he is still one of the best players in the world.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, two-time league MVP and 2019-20 Defensive Player of the Year, also said so himself postgame.

If he hadn't done so already, with his performances in the 2021 postseason leading into this game, Durant ensured everybody took notice with this one.

2. Same shot, same spot, same result - Game 4 vs. Cavaliers, 2018 Finals

Although the 2018 NBA Finals ended in a sweep, a couple of games came to the final minute. After Game 1 needed overtime, Game 3 was just a three-point game with about 50 seconds left, and that's when Durant nailed the dagger.

A long 3-pointer from nearly the same spot, around the same time and the same situation as Game 3 of the 2017 Finals.

That shot was part of the Warriors' game-sealing 9-2 run as Durant finished with 43 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists on 15-of-23 shooting from the field, 6-of-9 from long range and a perfect 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.

According to Basketball Reference, Durant registered a Game Score (a rough measure of player's productivity for a single game) of 39.6 for this game, a playoff career high. It was this game, when Stephen Curry struggled - 11 points on 3-of-16 shooting - that really tipped the Finals MVP award in Durant's favour.

3. 'I'm Kevin Durant' - Game 6 vs. Clippers, 2019 playoffs 1st round

Coming off a Game 2 where the Warriors lost and he finished with just 21 points on eight shots to go along with nine turnovers, Kevin Durant's gave us the iconic "I'm Kevin Durant" moment.

That's not all. He backed it up, scoring 29 or more in the next eight games, including three games of 45 or more. The LA Clippers - the first-round opponent of the Warriors in the 2019 postseason - bore the brunt of Durant's onslaught.

In the closeout Game 6, he dropped a playoff career-high 50 points and led the Warriors to a comfortable 19-point win. The Clippers, who were the feel-good story of that season, gave it their best shot but couldn't do much about it.

Hear it from Lou Williams himself, as he candidly talks about Durant's greatness despite the Clippers effort on defence:

According to Basketball Reference's Game Score, this is Durant's second-best performance in the playoffs.

4. No nerves in first Finals game - Game 1 vs. Heat, 2012 Finals

After exiting the playoffs in the first round in 2010 and the Conference Finals in 2011, the young Oklahoma City Thunder broke through the West in 2012. Facing off against the Miami Heat's Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Durant showed no nerves and took over this game late.

Just 23 years old back then, he dominated the fourth, scoring 17 of his team's 31 points and helping them outscore the Heat by 10 to win the game.

Durant finished the game with 36 points, eight rebounds and four assists on 12-of-20 shooting from the field to outperform then league MVP LeBron James (30/9/4/4). This performance ranks among his top 20 per Game Score.

5. Eliminating Denver for first playoff series win - Game 5 vs. Nuggets, 2011 playoffs 1st round

Up 3-1 and looking for their first playoff series victory as the OKC Thunder, it was tied at 50 in Game 5 between the Nuggets and Thunder.

In the second half, Durant seized control. Of his game-high 41, 28 came in the second half, and 16 alone came in the fourth and final quarter as he helped the Thunder outscore the Nuggets 28-21 for the win.

At the final buzzer, Durant also finished with five rebounds and two assists while shooting 14-of-27 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line.

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