The hobbled Golden State Warriors are down 2-1 in the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, but they got a bit of good news when the team announced Klay Thompson will play in Game 4 after missing Game 3 with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is out for Game 4 and has yet to practice with the team.
The Warriors host the Raptors for Game 4 in Oakland. They dropped Game 3 despite a career-playoff high 47 points from Steph Curry. The lack of firepower without Durant and Thompson in the lineup allowed the Raptors to pull off an easy win on the road.
With a 2-1 series lead, the Raptors have one last shot at beating the Warriors without Durant in the line up. Game 4 is crucial on all accounts. The series will be tied at 2-2 or the Warriors will be in the hole at 3-1.
Durant has not played since injuring his calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals in early May. Without Durant, the Warriors went 5-0. They put away the Rockets in Houston and then swept the Portland Blazers.
“It’s just about when the training staff tells me he’s ready,” said head coach Kerr. “He’s been doing individual work on the court. He’s been in the training room, in the weight room. He’s been doing lots of different things. Training staff said he’s not ready to play in a game yet, so that’s all.”
Durant averaged 34.2 points per game before he went down. That’s more than 8 points higher than his regular season total.
Fans hoped that Durant would return in time for the NBA Finals. But there’s also a worst-case scenario in which Durant is out for the remainder of the NBA Finals.
“We got to go out there like he’s not playing,” said teammate Shaun Livingston.
The Warriors are mentally prepared for a Durant-less team the rest of the Finals. Fans are a lot more fickle, though.
The Warriors welcome anytime Draymond Green unleashes a triple-double. However, they are in dire-need of extra scoring in order to keep up with Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors. At least with Klay Thompson back in the line up, the Warriors always have a chance with the Splash Brothers.
Thompson tweaked his hamstring in the fourth quarter of Game 2 in Toronto. He was leading the team in scoring at the time of his injury. Thompson said he wanted to play for Game 3, but team doctors held him out of the line up.
“My body feels really good,” Thompson said. “Just that extra night of rest really helped. I just can’t wait to get out here tomorrow.”
Thompson averaged 21.5 points per game in the regular season. In the postseason, he is scoring 19.5 points per game. Despite an early slump in the playoffs, Thompson improved to shooting 41.6 percent from three-point range.
On Deck: Do or Die Game 4
The Warriors host Game 4 at Oracle Arena in Oakland. If the Warriors lose Game 4 and then again for Game 5 in Toronto, then the Raptors win the NBA championship. That means there’s a legit scenario where Game 4 could be the last game that the Warriors play inside Oracle Arena.
The team is moving across the bay to a brand new arena in downtown San Francisco near Oracle Ballpark. The Warriors played their final full season in Oakland this past year. A win will guarantee in Game 4 at least one more home game for the Warriors. Game 6 is scheduled for Oakland on Thursday, June 13… if necessary.
Heading into Game 4, the Warriors are consensus 4.5-point favorites. The Raptors are the new favorites to win the NBA Championship at -115. The Warriors are -105 to rally back and pull off a three-peat.
Update: Looney In
Update (2 hours before tip-off): Warriors backup center Kevon Looney missed Game 3 with a first costal cartilage, but he will be available for Game 4.
“The guy’s just tough,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “He’s tough and he wants to play. And the injury is in an area where it allows him to move well enough to give it a shot to play.”
The Warriors thought they lost Looney for the rest of the playoffs when he suffered the fracture toward the end of Game 2 in Toronto.