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Tony Allen is making Kevin Durant’s life miserable in NBA playoffs

(EPA/Mike Brown)

Kevin Durant is the favorite to win the NBA’s most valuable player award. He set the scoring pace in the league with 32 points per game and has led the Oklahoma City Thunder their second top two seed in the Western Conference for the third year in a row. But he hasn’t been so valuable in the playoffs.

Part of the reason is the tenacious defense played by Memphis swingman Tony Allen. According to SportsVu, in the 91 minutes they have been matched up over three games, Durant has a effective field goal percentage — which weighs three-pointers 50 percent more than two-point shots — of 45.5 percent and a plus/minus of minus-10. When Allen is not on the court, those numbers rise to 56 percent and plus-12, respectively.

“It’s not like I’m just totally getting locked down,” Durant said. “[Tony Allen] is making it tough, but it’s not like I’m just nonexistent. I don’t know what you guys have been watching. He’s just making me work, like everybody else will.”

Here is how successful Durant was from the field during the regular season. Green, as you would expect, is good (above league average) with yellow being comparable to league average.

Here is Durant in the playoffs. Red indicates performance that falls below league average, and while there are some sample-size issues on parts of the court overall, we can seem diminished performance.

“All I can do is just stay alert on Kevin Durant, each 24 seconds they get it, and be ready to compete,” Allen said.

So far, it appears to be working.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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