Kevin Durant was involved in a play with LaMarcus Aldridge that was very similar to what his teammate Zaza Pachulia did to Kawhi Leonard. When Aldridge was forced to guard Durant on the perimeter, he attempted to contest the shot and ended up moving his foot under Durant’s landing area with what looked to be an extra step. Durant actually ended up landing on Aldridge’s foot but was fine and play continued on.
With the Pachulia incident so recent there was obviously a big focus on players being allowed to land. It seemed possible that the Spurs were just trying to do to Golden State what they did to them, but according to Durant that wasn’t the case. He was just being a big.
“Bigs are not used to being out on the perimeter and guarding guys on the perimeter. Their whole thing is giving you space so when you pull up they just contest. It’s just part of the game. Been happening forever since I’ve been in the league. I think bigs just try to contest shots and sometimes that stuff may happen but it’s not on purpose at all. You know LaMarcus he’s a stand up guy. He just plays the game the right way. It wasn’t anything more than that. It’s just a big out on the perimeter.”
Durant clearly feels there was no malicious intent on the part of Aldridge and the case he makes for why that play happened is fair. Bigs can’t afford to give up the little space they do have when out on the perimeter so typically they just do their best to contest jumpshots. What happened between Aldridge and Durant is fairly normal as players usually try to make shooters as uncomfortable as possible while still giving them room to land. Sometimes the latter isn’t possible.
This is the third time these playoffs that a play like this has been under a microscope, but never once has a player claimed the play itself was dirty. Al Horford had his foot under Markieff Morris, but Morris said he didn’t believe it to be intentional. Leonard said the same about Pachulia. There seems to be a mutual understanding by most players that sometimes stuff just happens.