Kevin Durant has been ruled out for Game 1 of the Blazers-Warriors series, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. It was also reported that Durant is “unlikely” to play in Game 2.
“Kevin Durant is out for at least Game 1 of the WCF, source tells ESPN. He’s not being re-evaluated until Thursday so it’s “unlikely “ he plays Game 2 either,” Shelburne tweeted.
Since Game 2 is on Wednesday, it is reasonable to assume that Durant will also miss the second game in the Western Conference Finals. Steph Curry spoke about Durant’s absence during the Rockets series.
“We’ve got to have (Durant’s) back the way he’s been honestly carrying us the entire playoff run,” Curry said, per SLAM Online. “That’s what makes a great team: whoever is out there is just making plays.”
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr also emphasized the team has plenty of experience even without Durant.
“I think there’s an advantage to have championship experience, and to have rings on your fingers,” Kerr noted, per Slam. “This group will never be doubted. This group has nothing to prove, so there’s a freedom that comes with that.”
Andrew Bogut Likely Will Be Starting for the Warriors
The Durant news leads to a question as to who will start for the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. If Game 6 was any indication, Andrew Bogut will likely get the start in place of Durant against the Blazers. Kevin Looney is another possibility if the Warriors choose to go with a hot-hand approach.
Durant’s Injury Was Ruled a Strained Calf
Golden State has provided little details on Durant’s injury other than to call it a “strained calf.” Overall, it was seen as good news as some feared Durant had a torn Achilles.
“I think it’s good news,” Kerr explained, per Sports Illustrated. “Calf strain, he’s had them before. He’s responded well. Obviously, we’re disappointed he won’t be able to play in this series. If we’re able to win the series and move on, looks good for his return in the not-too-distant future.”
While the Warriors would love to have Durant back, there could be a part of each player that treats this as another opportunity to prove how talented the Golden State roster is without KD. Golden State appeared motivated to prove they could win without Durant as they closed out the second round series against the Rockets.
It looks like the Warriors will get the same opportunity for at least two games. Portland could view this as a window to try to steal one of the first two games of the WCF.