OAKLAND — Kevin Durant wasn’t expected to play in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night, and according to Yahoo Sports that’s been made all but official within the Warriors’ walls. Meanwhile the team said he’ll be re-evaluated pregame to assess the progress of his right calf.
Durant suffered the calf strain while landing after a jump shot late in the third quarter during Game 5 of the conference semifinals against the Rockets. The Warriors have won both their games since, one the series-clincher against the Rockets in Houston and the other a 22-point cruise past the Blazers in Game 1 of the conference finals on Tuesday in Oakland.
Durant is clawing to play, but he hasn’t resumed on-court activity and his return doesn’t seem imminent.
“Just him being back there in the locker room and being around practice, I know he’s just dying to get out there on the court,” Klay Thompson said Wednesday. “But we definitely feel his energy and we can’t wait until he comes back. We miss him.”
Durant has scored 34.2 points per game these playoffs, most in the NBA, including a 51.3-percent clip from the field and a 41.6-percent mark from 3-point range.
In the two games since Durant’s injury, Stephen Curry has scored 33 and 36 points, respectively, while Thompson scored 27 points in Game 6 against the Rockets and 26 in Game 1 against the Blazers.
The Warriors have played two of their best games this postseason without their best player, but why?
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Thompson said. “A little luck. Familiarity, most of us playing with each other for so long. Yeah, those two things.”
Durant watched his team eliminate the Rockets from his apartment, as captured by photographer Jed Jacobsohn.
He was elated in that moment, but now he might be more frustrated than any Warrior watching the action from the sideline. Even so, Durant has stayed engaged, and his teammates have reaped the benefits.
“He’s handled it great. He’s vocal still, still being a leader. He’s staying in all of our ears,” Quinn Cook said. “He’s vocal during film, and it’s been great. I know he’s been putting in extra, extra work, so I know he’s excited to get back and we can’t wait to have him back.”
Kerr was asked Wednesday if there was any new news on Durant. His answer, in short, was no.
“What day is it, Wednesday?” Kerr asked. “What day did we say? Update Thursday. So there’s no update on tomorrow’s update.”
Kerr said it was still possible Durant could play in Game 2, but that hope has since been nullified. So Durant will watch another game from afar as his team aims for a 2-0 series lead, itching to return en route to a potential three-peat.
“You gotta up your level of focus and intensity and he’s always done that,” Warriors forward Andre Iguodala said. “He’s looking forward to coming back, so he’s putting himself in that mode as if he’s preparing for each game like he’s going to play. He’s always had that and it’s always good to see in him.”