OAKLAND — Golden State Warriors center was back at the team’s Downtown Oakland training facility on Tuesday, less than a week after he suffered a torn left quadriceps muscle in Game 1 of the Warriors’ first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It’s just rehab,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “He’s here today, he was in our film session, and he will continue to be rehabbing and be around us.”
In the process of pursuing a loose ball with eight minutes to go in the first quarter of Game 2 of the Warriors’ first-round Western Conference playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, Cousins sprawled to the floor and grabbed his left thigh. The injury happened to the same leg that suffered a torn Achilles in January of 2018, an injury that took almost 12 months to heal and rehabilitate. A torn quad could take six weeks, if not more, depending upon the severity of the tear, though it did not require surgery. The NBA Finals begin in early June.
“It was good to see him, and obviously we’ve been gone the last week or so, so it was good for everybody to see him, and vice versa,” Kerr said. “We’ll see what happens in a few weeks. We’ll have a better sense of his healing and his ability to maybe get on the court. Who knows? At this point, conservatively, I would say it’s highly unlikely [that he returns].”
After tearing his Achilles with the New Orleans Pelicans last season, Cousins found himself in the midst of rehab, and this summer, he lacked suitors on the free agent market. He joined the Warriors to not only chase a title, but to prove that he was still the four-time All-Star who could help shape a franchise. He signed with Golden State for the veteran’s minimum with the understanding that he would be unavailable until January, but would have enough time to integrate himself into the Warriors’ scheme and be ready for a playoff run.
Since returning from his Achilles injury against the Clippers in January, he had averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in 25.7 minutes. Over the final four games of the regular season, Cousins averaged 20.5 points and 11 boards and four assists.
After Cousins suffered the quad tear — in just his second career playoff game — guard Stephen Curry expressed sympathy for a player who has become beloved in the locker room, and has even helped diffuse tension earlier this season when Kevin Durant and Draymond Green got into a well-publicized tiff.
“You feel for him, considering what he’s been through this last year,” Curry said last week. “This is a big stage, the playoffs. he’s been looking forward to this … Just man-to-man, in terms of him, what he’sbeen through, it’s tough, for sure. There’s no sugarcoating it at all. You hate seeing that opportunity again on this big stage being taken away from him like that.”
Cousins will be at Game 5 on Wednesday.
After Game 4 on Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Warriors center Draymond Green sported a wrap around his right wrist and hand.
“You gotta know that they are going to come out and play hard, ” Green told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke following the game, in which he scored 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, adding five assists and nine rebounds. “This is a team, their backs have been against the wall all year, and they put their head down and continued to work. So, we got to come out and withstand that first punch, and if we withstand that, we’ll put ourselves in a good position.”
On Tuesday, head coach Steve Kerr said that Green had undergone an MRI on the area — he did not specify whether it was his hand, wrist or forearm — and that it came back clean. He practiced fully as the players returned from a day off. On Monday, the coaches came in to watch tape and talk strategic adjustments, but Green and the rest of the players were free from any obligations.
Green is expected to start on Wednesday against the Clippers in what could be a decisive Game 5. During the series, Green has averaged 34.8 minutes, 12.3 points, 7.8 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game and shot 44% from the field, but just 20.8% from 3-point range.
“Close-out games are always difficult,” Kerr said. “I think both teams, at this point, have a really good feel for one another, strategically, what each one is trying to do. I think the Clippers are going to come out flying around. They’ve got nothing to lose.”