EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Kevin Durant relying on experience ahead of 1st postseason with Suns

Apr 12, 2023, 8:12 PM | Updated: Apr 13, 2023, 9:41 am

Kevin Durant...

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Footprint Center on March 29, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 107-100. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns returned to practice on Wednesday but it surely wasn’t their first time back to the facility since last Sunday’s regular-season finale.

A team Chris Paul once defined as a “work team” stays working, so there was definitely a fair share of guys in the gym on Monday and Tuesday. Phoenix will get together as a group three more times leading up to this Sunday’s Game 1 of the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The fixture at Footprint Center will be Kevin Durant’s playoff debut as a Sun.

What will be viewed as a gigantic occasion in Valley sports will just mark Durant’s favorite part of the season.

Why? Because he gets to play more basketball.

“Great opportunity to play the game of ball, extend your season,” he said Wednesday. “I think that’s the fun part. I didn’t feel like I played enough ball to my standards so it’s good to get some extra games in the playoffs and just play the game and have some fun out there and compete.

“Preparation is always fun. Getting some extra time to work on your individual game in this little four, five-day break between the playoffs is always cool for me. Feeling good.”

Much has been made of Durant reaching just eight games played for Phoenix in the regular season thanks to a mid-season trade and two separate injuries. Durant acknowledged that chemistry is important to basketball but noted his 1,000 games of NBA basketball (986 to be exact) he can comfortably rely on to allow him to still remain as effective as he has proven to be.

To pad his point a bit, Durant’s also got 155 games played in the playoffs. That’s the 36th most ever, per Stathead.

And if you take all 160 players in league history who have made at least 100 appearances in the playoffs, Durant’s 29.4 points per game trail just Michael Jordan’s 33.4.

I’m sure he and his team will be fine!

Durant was asked about the assimilation process overall in Phoenix.

“I’m a true vet,” Durant said. “I’ve been in the league 15 years playing but 16 years around the league. I played with so many different players under so many different coaches — I know a few coaches here before I got here and I know I had a couple of teammates that I played on some teams with before I got here. So I think that stuff adds (up) and helps with speeding that transition up, just getting used to your teammates.”

With all that experience, Durant knows what’s coming in the different style of basketball that emerges in the postseason. You will not be surprised to hear him citing the play-in games from Tuesday night, as the avid hoop head is always watching and is ready for what’s ahead.

“I think it slows down a bit,” Durant said. “Even the play-in game last night, I know it went to overtime but I felt like that was a slower-paced game compared to the 140s, 130s you be seeing in the regular season. Even some of that first game in Atlanta too slowed down, physical game.

“That’s really what playoffs is. A lot of the stuff, the [signature] plays you ran through the regular season, might not be there. Just gotta knuckle down and guard up and play strong on offense and see what happens.”

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