TORONTO, Canada – Golden State Warriors star forward Kevin Durant will miss the second game of the NBA Finals on Sunday, June 2 (Monday, June 3, Philippine time) with the strained right calf that has sidelined him for the past 6 games.
Durant is the leading scorer in the playoffs for the Warriors, averaging 34.2 points with 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists a contest.
But the Warriors were 5-0 without him until losing 118-109 to Toronto in Thursday’s opening game of the best-of-seven championship series.
“Kevin is not going to play Sunday,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday. “We’ve been sort of holding out hope, but I might as well just say it now. It’s near impossible for him to play on Sunday.”
The 30-year-old superstar, Most Valuable Player of the past two NBA Finals, will become a free agent at the end of the playoffs but hopes to return and help Golden State to a third consecutive NBA crown before deciding his future.
A tricky one
Kerr gave no indication of a timetable for Durant’s return. Game 3 will be Wednesday at Oakland with Game 4 two days later on the Warriors’ California home court.
“He’s still progressing,” Kerr said. “When he’s ready to play he will play. That’s our approach.”
Kerr said Durant must rejoin the club for at least one practice before he will be reinstated to the lineup.
“It’s not like this is a sore ankle or his knee is sore and you can play through it. This is a tricky one,” Kerr said. “If you re-injure the calf, then that’s it and then he’s done for the series. So when he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”
Durant joined the Warriors for the trip to Toronto so he could be watched by trainers and medical personnel who also had to monitor his teammates.
“Our training staff is here and we need him with our training staff and we also need our training staff for the rest of our players,” Kerr said. “Kevin also wanted to be with the guys.”
Green sees KD progress
Kerr said he doubted he would insert Durant on a limited basis, as he did with DeMarcus Cousins in Game 1 after he had missed 6 weeks with a torn left quad.
“Maybe it will be a minutes issue based on his conditioning for not having played in a month or whatever, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Kerr said.
“He has done well with his rehab the last couple of days. He’s continuing to ramp stuff up.”
Warriors forward Draymond Green says he can see the progress as Durant works to return in time to help Golden State defeat Toronto.
“You can see him inching closer back to the team,” Green said. “I think so much has been made of Kevin because of what lies ahead for him (free agency) he’s not with the team, he’s not around, he’s not a part of it.
“You’re rehabbing. You’re on your own schedule. Now you see him around the team more. All of a sudden he’s on the bus to shootaround or practice. You start to see him, hear his voice more. You’re starting to hear him coming up with adjustments even before the game, giving his input.”
Iguodala ‘pretty good’
Andre Iguodala, who has spent more time on the court in Durant’s absence, appears set to play in Game 2 Sunday after suffering a left leg injury in game one and undergoing an MRI on Friday.
“Seems to be doing well,” Kerr said of Iguodala, the NBA Finals MVP in Golden State’s 2015 title run. “I talked to him and he said he felt pretty good.” – Rappler.com