OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors may wind up not having their two best scorers when they take the floor at Oracle Arena for the first time in these NBA Finals on Wednesday.
Klay Thompson (hamstring strain) has been ruled as questionable, and Kevin Durant (right calf strain) has been ruled out as the Warriors return home with the series tied at 1-1 with the Toronto Raptors. Center Kevon Looney (non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture) has been ruled out for the rest of the Finals.
Though Durant — who went down with a strained right calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets — has progressed to individual shooting drills, Kerr said it was “feasible” that Durant could return after just one practice, but he would have to have made it through pain-free.
Durant was not on the floor for Tuesday’s open portion of practice, and was not available for interviews.
Thompson exited Game 2 with eight minutes left with a hamstring strain, suffered after he landed in the splits on a 3-point attempt over Danny Green two minutes earlier. He continued to defend Kawhi Leonard before he was pulled, looking furious and wincing in pain as he headed to the locker room.
Thompson is known for his toughness. He has never missed a playoff game, and had his streak of 214 straight games played interrupted not because of injury, but because of his grandfather’s funeral. When asked about Thompson, teammate Draymond Green shook his head and knocked on the particle board lectern in front of him after practice on Tuesday.
“As a guy who had a high ankle sprain in high school, it sucked, and to see him playing with a high ankle sprain, we were in the Finals, and I think that takes the cake,” Green said. “That’s an injury that takes a long time to heal, and he’s out there playing in the NBA Finals. That was incredible to me.”
Thompson said that, last year, he was in a much worse position than he is now. When he arrived back in Oakland on Monday night, video showed him moving unencumbered. He shot seemingly without discomfort on Tuesday.
“It’s much better than it was Sunday night,” Thompson said. “So hopefully the same progress will be made and I’ll be moving like my normal self tomorrow. But the pain level wasn’t too crazy at all.”
Kerr said that Thompson will do everything in his power to play on Wednesday, though the training staff will have the final say, especially if he could be at risk of exacerbating the injury. If he’s ruled out, Quinn Cook — who came up with two big 3-pointers in Game 2 just after Thompson initially injured his leg — could get the start.
“He says he’s feeling well and that he’s feeling a lot better today than he did yesterday,” Kerr said. “And he thinks he’ll be ready to go. But as I said the other night, Klay is always going to say he’s ready to go. What we’ll have to determine is is that a risk? If he plays, are we risking anything?”
“I would do anything I can to be out there, but it’s all in their hands,” said Thompson, who still feels discomfort when he stops quickly or makes hard cuts. “… If you only feel it on a certain couple moves, you’re fine. But if you feel it every step of the way, that’s not a good sign. I do not feel it with every move I make, only on certain ones, so you can kind of play through that.
“From the progress I’ve made these last two days, I’m very encouraged that I’ll be able to go out there tomorrow night.”
Golden State was able to finish Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals without Durant, and win Game 6 to close out the series, and were able to fend off a fourth quarter charge in Game 2 without Durant or Thompson, but Game 1 showed that if just one of Thompson or Stephen Curry go cold or go out, it would be more of a necessity than a luxury to have Durant’s scoring presence.
“Our team is very adaptable,” said Kerr. “We have a lot of versatility. What it requires is bench players being ready to step up, like they always are, and guys just playing hard and playing together. I think you have to be fearless, too, which our team is. You can’t worry about anything.”
That Looney will be ruled out comes a day after Golden State said he would be out indefinitely. Looney had owned the Warriors’ sixth-best plus-minus rating per game in the playoffs (ninth among postseason participants), and was playing his way into perhaps a lucrative contract this offseason, but instead, Golden State will likely up the minutes of DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Bell, Andrew Bogut and Damian Jones.
“He’s had such a great season, such a great postseason run,” Kerr said. “Fortunately it won’t affect his future, but it’s a big loss for us.
If the Raptors go small — which they have done at times — Golden State could go with Draymond Green at the small-ball center, or Jonas Jerebko.
Forward Andre Iguodala, who had been dealing with a calf injury recently, has been cleared to play in Game 3.