TORONTO — The Golden State Warriors will be without Kevin Durant for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors That much has been established. The question now is whether or not the Warriors will have arguably the greatest scorer of his generation even in Game 2.
Durant, who suffered a calf strain in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, has yet to participate in on-court activities. Earlier this week, head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that his injury was worse than the initial diagnosis of a “mild” strain, though not as bad as both Kerr and Durant initially thought — an Achilles tear.
On Wednesday, during Finals media day — at which Durant was conspicuously absent — Kerr said that there’s still some boxes Durant needs to check before he can check into a game. He will begin on-court work in the next couple days. If he can do that without pain, then he’ll need to actually practice.
“We have to see him in practice before we see him in a game,” Kerr said, “and he hasn’t practiced yet.”
Before he went down, Durant was having arguably the greatest playoff stretch 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.
Last week, Durant — who came with the team to Toronto — said this calf injury felt different — worse — than his previous calf injuries. As soon as he came down from a 16-foot jump shot in the third quarter of Game 5, he felt like he’d been kicked, and immediately, his mind went to that same description used by the likes of DeMarcus Cousins and Kobe Bryant.
He was reminded of it when, sitting at home over a week ago, he leaped out of his chair as Golden State won two games in Portland agaionst the Trail Blazers to clinch its fifth straight Finals berth.
After playing Game 1 on Thursday against the Raptors, Golden State is planning on taking Friday off. That means the next time Durant could practice would be Saturday. That leaves open a possibility — however slim — that Durant could play in Game 2 on Sunday.
However, Durant hasn’t played since May 8, and needs to get his conditioning back.