The much-anticipated start of the 2019 NBA Finals is officially here, and the Golden State Warriors offered some positive news on DeMarcus Cousins. While the talented center suffered a torn quad in the opening round of the NBA playoffs, there was hope he could return if the team made the championship, and that’s proven to be the case.
As ESPN’s Nick Friedell first reported, Warriors coach Steve Kerr revealed that Cousins will suit up and be active for Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors. Obviously, the news is huge, and the fact he’s able to play this early in the series is incredibly good news and a positive outlook for the team’s chances to win another title.
While Cousins will play, one big looming question is how much action he’ll see and whether he’ll be in the starting lineup. The expectation and belief is that Cousins will see limited work through the early stages, but much of it could come down to his current conditioning.
We’re going to take a look at the Warriors roster and projected starting lineup for the first game of the NBA Finals.
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Warriors Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Raptors for Game 1
*Notates expected starter
UPDATE: Jordan Bell will start at center.
C: Jordan Bell*, DeMarcus Cousins, Andrew Bogut, Damian Jones
PF: Draymond Green*, Kevon Looney, Jonas Jerebko
SF: Andre Iguodala*, Alfonzo McKinnie
SG: Klay Thompson*, Jacob Evans
PG: Stephen Curry*, Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook
The NBA’s official injury report lists Cousins as available also, although Kevin Durant has already been ruled out for the opener. The big question remains what role Cousins will play, but considering the Raptors have Marc Gasol at center, it could make sense for the Warriors to give the 28-year-old the starting nod, even if he plays in short spurts.
It’ll be interesting to see how Kerr and the coaching staff opts to approach defending Gasol and the other big men on Toronto. Obviously, there’s a decent chance we could see a fair amount of Andrew Bogut on Gasol, but Kevon Looney has looked good as of late and will likely receive solid run.
Impact of DeMarcus Cousins’ Return
While Cousins missed roughly the first half of the season due to injury, he progressively improved during the year and was a key cog in the middle. Obviously, the Warriors were attempting to add yet another start to the mix, so there were some bumps along the way, but there’s no question that he provides a huge presence down low.
As ESPN Stats & Info revealed, the Warriors were actually slightly better offensively without Cousins, outscoring opponents by 8.1 points compared to 4.5 when Boogie was not on the floor. Even still, Cousins is in a prime position to have success in a position like this and a matchup against a team who has another legitimate big man. Golden State needs someone who can bang around with Gasol down low, and he’ll likely be ready to fill that role.