Oakland, Calif. — Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant will not play in Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers as he continues to recover from a strained right calf. Warriors coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that Durant’s availability for the rest of the series is in doubt after the forward was re-evaluated Thursday and still hasn’t been cleared for on court work. The Warriors said he would be re-evaluated again in a week.
“Hopefully he continues to progress and he has made progress, but it’s a little more serious than we thought at the very beginning,” Kerr said after the Warriors 114-111 Game 2 win. “So we’ll see where it all goes, but he’s in there all day long getting treatment. He’s done a great job of committing himself to that process. [Warriors director of sports medicine and performance] Rick [Celebrini] and his staff are in there all day, and hopefully he’ll be back at some point, but we’ll just wait and see.”
Durant, who hasn’t played since he strained his calf in the third quarter of the Warriors’ Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals, won’t travel with the team to Portland for Games 3 and 4, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers told NBC Bay Area in a pregame appearance.
Game 5, if needed, would be in Oakland on Wednesday, but it doesn’t sound as if he’ll be ready for that game, either. Durant’s teammates are hopeful he will return soon, but they are preparing as if he won’t be back against the Blazers.
“I think you have to as a player,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We can’t sit and look over our shoulder and say, ‘Hey, man, when is K going to be back?’ We just got to play with whatever we got. We got to play and give him an opportunity to get back, and I think that’s what really falls on our shoulders. Obviously, like you said, we’re a much better team with him on the floor, and that’s on both sides of the ball, but right now we’re a very confident group and you know we got everybody stepping up and giving great minutes and that’s what it’s all about.
“So I mean, hopefully he’s back sooner than later, but you know, as a guy who is in the war, in the battle every night, we can’t sit and look over our shoulder and wonder when he or DeMarcus [Cousins] is coming back. We have to assume that — this year, they are never coming — I know something will be made of that — we have to assume they are not coming back and play with what we got. Obviously, we are hoping that they do. But while they are not out there, we just got to play.”
Kevin Durant stands outside the Warriors’ locker room after Golden State’s Game 2 win and congratulates his teammates.
Green earned a few laughs from the assembled media with the unintended reference to Durant’s impending free agency decision, but the reality is the Warriors just aren’t sure when their star will be able to return. A league source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Durant was ‘not close’ to coming back yet. In a statement released at the start of Game 2, the Warriors said Durant “has shown good progress since beginning his rehabilitation program one week ago,” while noting that he wasn’t ready for any on court work.
Durant is still walking with a bit of a limp as he tries to recover from an injury many in the organization initially feared was a torn Achilles.
As for Cousins, the injured center continues to do his own rehab work following a torn quad injury suffered in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the LA Clippers.
The Warriors said in their statement that Cousins has “progressed to on-court work, but is still not ready for live action.” Like Durant, Cousins is also supposed to be re-evaluated in one week.
Initially, the Warriors listed Cousins as being “unlikely” to return this season after suffering the injury, but the Warriors have been pleased with the way his body is responding to the rehab.
“DeMarcus is coming along,” Kerr said before the game. “He’s starting to do some work on the floor, so he’s not exactly close to playing in a game, but he’s making good strides with his rehab and getting out on the court and starting to do some conditioning things. We’ll see where that goes.”
The Warriors have more incentive than ever to try and close out the Blazers as soon as possible and give both Durant and Cousins as much time as possible before The Finals begin on May 30. In the meantime, the group is focused on trying to finish off the Blazers as Game 3 looms on Saturday night in Portland.
“We miss him,” forward Klay Thompson said of Durant. “I mean, that’s obvious to see. [His absence] does not change my approach. Just got to go out there and play my style of basketball and just hope for a speedy recovery. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of the game and we’ll desperately need him to three-peat and that’s no secret about that.”