After Game 5, Westbrook reflected on Durant’s comments, with an introspective answer that sounded as if it could also serve as a pitch to teams to sign him this summer.
“I just think that I am a player that makes mistakes like anybody else,” Westbrook said. “I miss shots like anybody else. I turn the ball over like anybody else. But I also do a lot of things that a lot of people can’t do, and I’ve done a lot of things people haven’t done in this league.”
For Durant, this series, and these playoffs, have a different meaning in some basketball fans’ eyes: proving that he can win a title without Golden State’s Stephen Curry and as a team’s best player. Durant, however, has said that he doesn’t feel that pressure because he has “nothing to prove.”
The Boston Celtics embarrassed Durant and the Nets last season in the first round of the playoffs, sweeping them without much trouble. Boston’s star forward Jayson Tatum outplayed Durant, scoring a lot while also defending Durant.
And then, in the N.B.A. finals, Curry and the Warriors beat that Boston team that had easily conquered Durant’s earlier in the postseason.
In Tuesday’s win, Durant disappeared for much of the fourth quarter, going scoreless for nearly 10 minutes as Booker dominated the ball and the Clippers inched closer. As the postseason continues, how the Suns win — with Durant leading the way or with Booker, or someone else — will add fodder to the discussion about Durant’s place as one of the best players ever.
That was clear on Tuesday, as Suns Coach Monty Williams made sure to acknowledge in his postgame news conference. But Williams also said that he was at fault for Durant’s lack of touches at the end of the game.