Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) chats with guard Quinn Cook (4) and forward Jordan Bell (2) before the team practice prior to game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 1, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Chris Victorio | Special to S.F. Examiner)

Durant not cleared for contact, could he play in Game 3?

Could Kevin Durant possibly play as early as Game 3 of the NBA Finals?

TORONTO — It would be possible for Kevin Durant to play after just one practice, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said at shootaround on Sunday, before Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

“It’s feasible,” Kerr said. “It’s really a day-to-day thing.”

The Warriors do not practice on Monday, so the earliest Durant could practice would be Tuesday, with Game 3 being played on Wednesday in Oakland. He did not participate in shootaround on Sunday, but is taking steps in his rehab.

Previously, Kerr had said that Golden State would need to see Durant go through practice pain-free before even considering throwing the two-time Finals MVP back into a game. Originally diagnosed as a “mild calf strain,” the injury has lingered longer than Golden State had anticipated, and his absence was keenly felt in the 118-109 Game 1 loss.

“If we had a crystal ball, we would have known a long time ago what we were dealing with, but it’s just an injury where there’s a lot of gray area. It literally is just day-to-day, and how the progress is coming. At this point, he’s still not ready.”

After the Golden State forward was sidelined near the end of the third quarter of Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals with a strained right calf, the Warriors closed out the Houston Rockets and swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, with Durant looking on from his couch at home in the Bay Area.

Should Golden State go down 2-0 headed back to Oakland, Durant’s return would drastically change the series. The Warriors missed his defense on the similarly-lengthy Pascal Siakam, who scored 32 points in Game 1, and they missed his ability to shake the defense loose with his spot-up elbow jumper and his fadeaway, which allowed the Raptors to hone in on Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.

Before he went down, Durant was having one of the greatest playoff stretches of his career. In 39.1 minutes per game, he was shooting 51.3% from the field, 41.6% from 3-point range, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 34.2 points per game.

Durant has been participating in individual shooting work for less than a week, but has not yet been cleared for contact. He came with the team to Toronto in order not only to be with the team’s training staff (some of whom could surely have stayed home with him), but to be with the team. On Saturday, he was on teh floor during a light Warriors practice, though he did not participate. He stood to the side in a hoodie, Nike slip-on sandals and a Chicago White Sox cap.

Even though he hasn’t been able to actually do much physically in Toronto, Durant has provided some invaluable insight while in Toronto.

“Kevin’s presence is kind of becoming more and more evident,” Draymond Green said on Saturday. “It’s becoming more and more normal with where he is in his rehab and being around the team more. So, it obviously means a lot. When you’re talking about a guy like Kevin, a talent like that, it comes with a different view. He sees the game from a different perspective.”

Added Curry: “He’s chiming in when he sees something in the locker room and pointing out some X’s and O’s type of stuff. But more so when you see him putting time in trying to get healthy, and trying to get back out on the floor as soon as possible, that’s motivation.”


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