DeMarcus Cousins 'on course' to return for Western Conference finals

·Yahoo Sports Contributor

After an injury-filled start to the playoffs, the Golden State Warriors finally seem to be getting some good news.

Although there’s no firm date on his return yet, center DeMarcus Cousins is “on course” to return to the Warriors in their next series.

Cousins was expected to mis the entire playoffs after partially tearing his left quad in the first round oft he playoffs, but the injury is improving faster than planned. Game 1 of the Western Conference finals will tip off Tuesday with the series ending as soon as May 20 and Game 7 scheduled for May 26.

This injury news is especially welcomed after star forward Kevin Durant went down in Game 5 of the second round with a right calf strain.

Warriors add much-needed depth

While Cousins can’t replace Durant’s league-leading 34.2 points per game in the postseason, he gives the team crucial depth after it nearly cost it last series.

Without Durant for the end of Game 5 and all of Game 6 — plus Cousins for the entire series — the Warriors had to lean heavily on their old Lineup of Death. Starters Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green averaged 38.9 minutes per game, which is more than eight minutes higher than their regular-season averages.

The bench was fairly unproductive too with only two players — Kevon Looney (36) and Shaun Livingston (26) — totaling double-digit points in the series.

El jugador de los Golden State Warriors DeMarcus Cousins reacciona tras lesionarse en la primera mitad del partido contra los Clippers de Los Angeles en el segundo partido de su serie de los playoffs de la NBA el lunes, 15 de abril del 2019.  (AP Foto/Jeff Chiu)
Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins is 'on course' to return next series. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Cousins’ impact going forward

The Warriors don’t yet know their opponent for the Western Conference finals with the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers knotted at three games apiece, but Cousins is sure to make a large impact.

Although he only scored 11 points on 13 shots in 25 minutes during the first round, Cousins averaged 16.3 points per game during the regular season and has the ability to stretch the floor as a 3-point threat.

Durant will likely return by the end of the playoffs, which means the Warriors can be back to full health before long. And potentially adding further depth, big man Damian Jones was cleared for contact and will begin three-on-three practice shortly.

Even without Durant and Cousins, FiveThirtyEight gives the Warriors a 78 percent chance at making the NBA Finals and a 51 percent chance of winning the title. But with the team at full strength, they would be back to heavy favorites again.

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