Clippers notes: Matt Barnes has unenviable task of guarding league MVP Kevin Durant

first_imgOKLAHOMA CITY – At Wednesday’s morning shootaround, Clippers coach Doc Rivers was asked to talk about Matt Barnes being assigned the task of guarding the not-so-guardable Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. It brought Rivers back to his days as coach of the Celtics.“That’s a hard role,” Rivers said of Barnes’ assignment, ahead of Game 2 of his team’s Western Conference semifinals series against OKC at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “You know, it’s like Chris (Paul) had the role last series when he had to defend Stephen Curry (of Golden State). That’s a great thing about playoffs, it’s your turn.“We used to always say that in Boston. We’d play one series and all the players would jump on the guy who had to guard the hard guy, you know, joke around about it. Then the next series, ‘Now it’s your turn.’ And that’s basically what it is.”Rivers conceded trying to defend Durant is often futile. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error It was long, and much of it was directed at his teammates, as well as his family – in particular, his mother Wanda. It was all good.“Yeah, I thought it was great, I thought it was really nice,” Rivers said. “You know, very few people can be MVP. One a year. And the class that he’s in is amazing, so I loved the fact that he thanked all his teammates and his coaching and everything. I thought that was great. … But the neat part for me was his mom. I mean, his mom and him and his brother had been through so much.“And it’s rare that you get a chance to publicly thank your parents, is the way I looked at that, and I thought that was really cool.”Here’s an excerpt from Durant’s speech directed at his mother: “We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to bed hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”All the while, KD was shedding tears. As was mom. Or should we say, Mama D, as she is referred to here.Brooks also touchedDurant’s address is the talk of the town here, and Thunder coach Scott Brooks was equally moved.“I love Kevin Durant,” Brooks said two hours before tipoff Wednesday. “Yesterday, that was a special moment for all of us. There are so many layers to that amazing speech that he gave. Just the mother-son relationship. Obviously, we all have a special place with that and you get to that point and you think about that for yourself and you don’t want to leave that place you have with your mom.“You saw that, and that was special.”center_img “You know, Kevin’s the MVP,” Rivers said of Durant, who Tuesday was officially crowned as such. “He’s the best scorer in the league, he’s impossible to guard at times, and we understand that. And Matt understands that, too.“Having said that, when Matt starts the game, his job is to try to shut him down. That’s probably not going to happen. But in his mind you have to think that it can.”Durant scored 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting in the Clippers’ Game 1 rout of OKC on Monday. That’s seven fewer points than his season average of 32.0; he averaged 29.9 points in his team’s seven-game series win over Memphis in the first round.Doc liked MVP speechBy now everyone has heard that OKC’s Durant gave a long and heartfelt acceptance speech upon receiving his MVP award in front of about 1,000 in nearby Edmond. Rivers wasn’t there as his team was meeting with reporters following its practice. But he heard about it, and liked it.last_img read more