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Appreciate it: Despite injury, Kevin Durant is on historic roll

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Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks

If there’s a key observation from the Nets loss to the Bucks on Sunday, it’s this above all else: Kevin Durant is a monster. M-O-N-S-T-E-R. Period. And it wasn’t one-time thing. Despite injuries to his hamstring and thigh, KD has been putting up extraordinary numbers all season long, but even more stunning after returning from injury.

Took a look... per Tom Dowd, the Nets in-house beat writer, and the Nets public relations team:

—Durant shot 16-for-33 with seven 3-pointers in 10 attempts while grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out two assists Sunday. The seven three’s matched his career high.

—Coming off another 42-point game against Indiana on Thursday, Sunday’s 42-point explosion was the fifth time in Durant’s career that he has scored 40-plus points in consecutive games.

—KD became the third player in Nets franchise history to put together back-to-back 40 pieces. Only Vince Carter and John Williamson had done it in the past and it’s been 16 years since VC did it and 43 years since Super John.

—In 28 games, Durant has now scored 30 or more 13 times, nearly once every other game. Three of those games, he topped 40.

—Durant now ranks fourth in the NBA in 3-point shooting with a career-high 47.8 percent, only two-tenths of a percentage behind Joe Harris who’s in second.

As Dowd writes, Durant’s recent numbers coming back from those injuries are staggering.

Since returning from a hamstring strain on April 7, Durant is shooting 61.3 percent overall and 59.1 percent from 3-point range, rising to a career-high 47.8 3-point shooting percentage from 3-point range for the season that has him ranked third in the NBA. With his minutes limited at times as he worked his way back first from the hamstring strain and then a thigh contusion that cost him three games, Durant has averaged 26.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in just 26.8 minutes per game, so he’s essentially averaging an unheard of point a minute.

He’s also shooting 90 percent from the free throw line, giving him a 61/59/90 shooting line and a 75 percent true shooting percentage. Not too shabby. And for the season, despite its ups-and-downs, hamstrings and thighs, Durant is averaging 28.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists on a 55/48/88 shooting line. Other than the rebound number and free throw shooting ALL are higher than his career averages!

Don’t be satisfied with the Nets’ or our analysis. Ask Giannis Antetokounmpo who had 49 Sunday to help the Bucks win Sunday.

“I was not going back and forth with KD,” said Antetokounmpo. “Nobody in this world can go back and forth with KD. He’s been one of the greatest scorers to ever play this game. That’s not the game plan you want to go against. You’re going to his game. That’s where he wants to go.”

Moreover, as FiveThirtyEight.com reported last week, Durant has proven he’s back from the worst injury a basketball player can imagine, an Achilles tear.

Durant has put up a usage rate (31.5) and player efficiency rating (26.7, tops among the Nets’ power trio) right in line with his historical norms. He’s looked like himself, in other words — which counts as something of a hoops miracle...

At the rim, where a wing’s diminished bounce can show up most severely, he’s finishing 75 percent of his attempts, his best conversion rate there since his first year with the Golden State Warriors. In isolation, he’s piled up 1.13 points per possession. (For comparison, Harden averaged 1.22 points per possession when he iso’ed his way to the 2018 MVP.)

Statistics aside, Durant is just happy to be playing again ... and in big games.

“I’m just excited I get a chance to play after being off for so long with injuries,” said Durant post-game. “Any game, especially games where it comes down to the wire, I’m super-excited just to be a part of those and tonight was one of those nights.”

Hopefully, there will be other big games soon.