Kevin Durant practiced with the Golden State Warriors on Sunday for the first time since he injured his calf in early May. He was initially currently listed as “Questionable” on the NBA Finals injury report for Game 5, but had since been upgraded as a “game time decision” from head coach Steve Kerr.
Warriors fans hope that Durant plays. At the least, they hope he can pull a Willis Reed and energize the team. At the best, KD looks like his old self with 30-plus points to help the Warriors stave off elimination.
The Warriors are down 3-1 in the NBA Finals. They lost Game 3 at Oracle Arena in Oakland without Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney, and Kevin Durant. Both Thompson and Looney returned for the next game, but the Warriors lost Game 4 and could not hold off Kawhi Leonard. Leonard took over the game once again, while the Raptors defense finally figured out how to effectively defend Steph Curry.
“Injuries are the hardest part of sports,” Klay Thompson said. “You just got to play through them. Not play through them, but manage the injury. It’s tough. I mean, I went through it. Kevin’s is much more serious than all of ours, and I know how badly he wants to be out there. He’s one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around.”
Help Us, KD, You’re Own Only Hope
The Warriors desperately need Durant’s scoring ability, especially after the Raptors put the clamp down on Steph Curry.
Curry torched the Raptors for a career-playoff high of 47 points in Game 3. For Game 4, Nick Nurse and the defense threw everything at him (minus the proverbial kitchen sink). If anything, the Raptors swarming defense (traps and double and triple teams) tired out Curry, who looked drained by the start of the fourth quarter in Game 4.
“He will be very welcome, I’ll say that much,” said Klay Thompson. “It’s pretty easy to realize we obviously miss him out there, and he’s propelled us to two championships in the last two years. So it would be pretty storybook if he could come back and help us do the same.”
Durant stepping onto the court will alleviate the pressure and provide the Warriors with a third big dog aside from the Splash Brothers.
“It’s just having another powerful weapon out there that can do some very dynamic things on the floor,” Steph Curry said. “We’ll be able to adjust in transition pretty smoothly.”
Where’s the D?
As much as the Warriors are hurting on offense, they have been playing horrible defense this NBA Finals. In their previous championship runs, the Warriors boasted either the best or second-best defense in the playoffs in points allowed.
This season, the Warriors are 11th (out of 16) in postseason defense. They’ve been allowing 111 points per game. Against the Raptors, they gave up 118 or more points in two of their losses.
“We just have to be aggressive and smart and competitive, especially on the defensive end. And the rest should take care of itself.”
Warriors allowed 111 points per game in the regular season, which put them smack in the middle of the NBA. They were generating 117.2 points per game, which was second-best in the NBA.
On Deck: Game 5
The Toronto Raptors are a mere one game away from winning their first NBA championship. Kawhi Leonard is also one victory away from achieving Canadian royalty status in perpetuity. They have a chance to go in for the kill in front of their home fans. Game 5 of the NBA Finals tips off at 6pm PT or Vegas time.
The betting markets fluctuated on the news of Durant in practice. The line initially opened at Warriors +2.5 as the road team for Game 5 in Toronto and got quickly bet up to +3. The line dropped to +1.5 when word got out that Durant would practice. The assumption is that if Steve Kerr would not play Durant if he didn’t at least practice once. Durant will be a game-time decision for the game.
According to a couple of offshore sportsbooks, the Toronto Raptors are -450 to win the NBA Championship. The Golden State Warriors are +375 to rally back from down 3-1 to win their third-straight NBA crown.