OAKLAND, USA – If the injury-hit Golden State Warriors manage to win their third-straight NBA Finals and fourth in 5 years, the trainers and medical staff might deserve Most Valuable Player consideration.
The reigning champions are level with Toronto at 1-1 entering Wednesday’s third game of the best-of-seven series, but injuries to key players have the Warriors uncertain just who will suit up against the Raptors.
“We’ll see about all the injuries,” Kerr said. “You need your bench, no matter what, but in particular when you’ve got a lot of injuries.”
Two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, Golden State’s top playoff scorer, has been sidelined for nearly a month with a right calf injury.
Kerr says Durant must take part in a practice before playing, but called it “feasible” that Durant could take part in a Tuesday workout and return in game three Wednesday.
Klay Thompson and Kevin Looney are nursing new injuries from Sunday’s 109-104 victory at Toronto.
The Warriors flight from Canada arrived later than expected Monday, June 3, in California, delaying an MRI exam of star guard Thompson and medical tests on reserve center Looney.
Thompson left in the fourth quarter of Golden State’s game two triumph with a tight left hamstring.
“Klay said he’ll be fine, but Klay could be half dead and he would say he would be fine,” Kerr said. “We’ll see. He pulled his hamstring. He thinks it is minor, so I don’t know what that means going forward.”
Looney was sidelined from game two with what the team called a chest contusion but Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game the problem was “something with his shoulder.”
DeMarcus Cousins played nearly 28 minutes in game two after going only eight minutes in game one in his return from a torn left quadriceps that had sidelined him for six weeks.
“He was fantastic and we needed everything he gave out there, his rebounding, his toughness, his physical presence,” Kerr said.
“He feels good in there right now so we do feel confident we can continue to get good minutes from him. We’re going to need them with all these injuries.”
Cousins stepped into the pressure of his first NBA Finals start a produced 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“It feels great,” Cousins said. “It was an incredible moment for me. But I’m not satisfied and I’m looking forward to game three.”
Curry didn’t feel right
Warriors’ 3-point sharpshooter Stephen Curry started 0-for-6 and felt bad early but sparked a rally with a late second-quarter surge.
“Just didn’t feel right at the start of the game,” Curry said. “But at the end of the day nothing’s going to keep you from playing in the finals. So I have plenty of time to recover before game three. Don’t really know what the cause was. Just didn’t feel right.
Kerr said Curry “may have been a little dehydrated. That was the word I got. He just was feeling a little bit lightheaded and went back into the training room and came back and was doing much better.”
Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, ignored a nagging left calf injury to sink the winning 3-pointer in the dying seconds.
“We’ve battled injuries. Every year throughout a playoff stretch, someone went down,” Iguodala said. “It’s a mindset. You go play. Not saying it’s smart, but you only have about a week left to gut it out and see if you can help the team.”
Warriors trust bench
It’s no wonder the Warriors are struggling to figure out who will be healthy enough to play and which reserves need to play crucial minutes.
“We’ll just continue to go to those guys and trust them,” Kerr said. “They’ve proven that they can really help us.”
Raptors star Kawhi Leonard said whatever the Warriors do won’t impact Toronto’s approach.
“We still got to go out and make shots and guard guys that’s out there,” he said. “Missing Durant, it’s a big loss for them.”
The Warriors’ motto is “Strength in Numbers” and Curry says that depth tribute is true now more than ever.
“Everybody’s going to have a chance to help us at some point,” Curry said. “Just stick with it and be patient.” – Rappler.com