Kevin Durant is a game-time decision for the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, head coach Steve Kerr told reporters in Toronto on Monday.
Durant went through most of Golden State’s shootaround at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, according to reports, before heading back into the locker room for more treatment on his rigtht calf. Durant injured the calf on a non-contact play in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets, coming down from a 16-foot jump shot.
Durant has not played in nearly a month, missing nine games. Golden State has gone 6-3 over that span, with all three losses coming in the Finals to the Toronto Raptors. Down 3-1, getting Durant back — even at less than 100% — could be enough for the Warriors to steal another road game from the Raptors and return the series to Oakland for Game 6.
“He looked good and we’ll see where it all goes,” Kerr said. “You worry about conditioning. The skill is obviously undeniable. he’s a guy who can get his shot off any time he wants.”
The scrutiny surrounding both the health of Durant — who can opt out of his contract at the end of the season and explore free agency — and the future of Golden State — who has nine other players eligible for some type of free agency this summer — has been intense over the last four weeks. Some have questionined the Warriors’ handling of the situation, and Durant’s motivation.
“I think the scrutiny is something we’re all used to, and that Kevin is used to,” Kerr said. “We’re all in the spotlight. Our team is always in the spotlight … The most difficult thing is not being able to be out there with his teammates at the biggest time of the year. From that perspective, I’ve just felt bad for him. We all have.”
A two-time Finals MVP, Durant is arguably the greatest scorer of his generation, and his offensive versatility opens up space on the floor for Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
“He wasn’t cleared to play until after Game 4,” Kerr said. “Now, he’s had a couple days of practice, so there’s some clarity now. But, it’s been frustrating. We talked about it when the injury occurred — pretty vague, a lot of gray area. One of the first things Rick [Celebrini]told me — with calves, it could be a couple weeks [or] it could be a couple months. It’s not often you have injuries like that … it’s a little tougher to gauge than a joint.
“When you combine that with the scrutiny and the media coverage of the Finals — we’ve been in the spotlight, he’s been in the spotlight — it’s been tough.”
Before he went down, Durant was having one of the best postseasons of his career. In 39.1 minutes per game, he was shooting 51.3% from the field and 41.6% from three, pulling down 5.2 rebounds, dishing out 4.9 assists, recording a career-high 1.2 steals per game and scoring a career-high 34.2 points per game.
The 10-time All-Star’s return would finally give Golden State its full complement, after DeMarcus Cousins returned from a torn quad in Game 1, Kevon Looney returned in Game 4 from an upper chest injury that was thought to knock him out of the series, and Klay Thompson returned from missing his first playoff game ever to record 28 points in a Game 4 loss.
Kerr said that if Durant does go, there would be no firm minutes restriction. His minutes would be governed by his conditioning.
“It’s how he feels, how the training staff feels,” Kerr said.
Durant worked out privately with some of the team’s younger players on Sunday, but Kerr would not say whether it was 3-on-3 or 5-on-5. While in Toronto for the first two games of the series, Kerr said that it was “feasible” for Durant to play after going through just one practice, provided he was pain-free.
“He’s been in similar situations with us where he’s had long layoffs,” Kerr said. “He’s Kevin Durant. if we have him out there, he’ll be a threat. We know that.”
Game 5 tips off at 6 p.m. Pacific on ABC.