Monte Poole | NBC SPORTS
TORONTO – Official word from the Warriors early Monday afternoon was that Kevin Durant’s status for Game 5 of the NBA Finals will not be determined until an hour or twobefore tipoff.
That’s just language, according to multiple league sources that insist Durant will be in the starting lineup as the Warriors try to resuscitate their hopes for a third consecutive championship.
Durant has been sidelined for 32 days with a strained right calf. He returned to the practice floor on Sunday for a light afternoon workout, followed by a more strenuous session a few hours later.
Having passed those tests, Durant participated in the team’s shootaround Monday morning and also did well.
“He looked good,” coach Steve Kerr, adding that Durant will be “a game-time decision.”
Durant will continue to receive treatment before game time, but he has experienced no setbacks since the Warriors arrived Saturday afternoon.
“You worry about the conditioning,” Kerr said. “The skill obviously is undeniable. He’s a guy who can get his shot off any time he wants. He’s been in similar situations with us, where he’s had long layoffs. He’s Kevin Durant. So, if we have him out there, he’ll be a threat. I know that.”
The Warriors surely need anything Durant can provide. Their rotations are out of sync and often ineffective. Their scoring is down, and so is their defense.
With Durant’s unavailability, along with several other injuries, they’re not the team that has won back-to-back championships.
His return will bring them much closer to that level.
Doctor explains what to expect from Kevin Durant in Game 5 of NBA Finals
Dalton Johnson | NBC SPORTS
The moment Kevin Durant hopped around and grabbed his lower left leg in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, all of Twitter turned into doctors, proclaiming the Warriors star injured his Achilles tendon.
Relax, an actual doctor thought the same thing.
“Based on the video of the injury, I did believe that this was an Achilles tendon injury,” Dr. Selene Parekh, co-founder of the Fantasy Doctors, told NBC Sports Bay Area.
Parekh, who is a Co-Chief of the Foot and Ankle Division at Duke University, has seen recent videos of Durant walking — not practicing — and offered his take on how he expects Durant to look after sources told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole that the Warriors forward will play Monday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Right away, Parekh noted that he believes Durant would still be sidelined if this were the regular season.
“In his first game back, I think he will not be as effective,” Parekh said. “He will likely decrease his speed, agility, mobility, and time on the court. This will hurt his ability to go up and down the court, driving to the basket and even shooting 3-pointers.”
Durant will be playing in his first game since May 8. He’s now missed 32 days, and many questioned by why his absence was taking so long. Parekh noted that calf injuries can be tricky and even likened it to hurting your hamstring.
“The calf is funny,” he said. “It is big and muscular, but like the hamstring, needs time to heal. Otherwise this becomes a nagging injury.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr will insert Durant back into the starting lineup, and he isn’t expected to put a minutes restriction on the two-time Finals MVP. With that being said, Durant will surely be monitored closely. Parekh says a complete tear of the calf is rare, though the longer Durant plays, the more of a question mark his calf will be.
“Given the importance of this game, look for KD to push through the pain. As fatigue and dehydration set in, especially in the third and fourth quarters, he can reinjure the calf, have a more severe strain, and if his mechanics are way off … be at risk for a tear.”
Durant initially injured his calf after draining a shot. The Warriors will need plenty of that as their hampered offense has suffered lately with his loss, but cutting — not jumping — is what will be most difficult for Durant.
“That side to side motion depends on the calf muscle to stabilize the ankle and propel the body in the right direction,” Parekh said. “He will not do this effectively.”
Kevin Durant is back. What version of the superstar we’ll see, is the question only he can answer in the coming hours.