Can Spurs’ Jackson, Leonard Stop Durant?
At some point during the Western Conference finals series opening Sunday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will wave Stephen Jackson into a game and ask him to stop the Earth from spinning.
Or, he will ask Jackson to guard Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant. Same difference.
“You can’t stop him,” Jackson said. “He’s 6-foot-11. He can shoot. He’s athletic. He’s quick. You can’t stop a guy like that.”
This is the guy standing between the Spurs and a return to the NBA Finals?
The first black bean is most likely to go to rookie Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs’ 20-year-old small forward whose first “welcome-to-the-NBA” moment might have come when matched up briefly with Durant in a game in January.
“You know he’s going to get his points,” said Leonard, whose 7-foot-3 wingspan can mitigate Durant’s length. “You just try to make it tough on him and hope he misses shots.”
If any team can lay claim to the secret of defending Durant, perhaps it is the Spurs.