Kevin Durant will miss Wednesday night’s contest against the Portland Trail Blazers due to a left calf strain. The Golden State Warriors have not yet announced a replacement in the starting lineup for their superstar forward, who injured his leg during Sunday’s Game 1 win over the Blazers.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported the news roughly two hours before Game 2’s tipoff.
The Warriors have ruled out Kevin Durant (strained left calf) for tonight's Game 2 against Portland, according to league sources.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 20, 2017
Head coach Steve Kerr spoke to the media soon after that report and announced that the Warriors would also be without reserves Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes, and Kevon Looney. Rookie wing Patrick McCaw will most likely start in Durant’s place, just like he did when KD missed four weeks in March with a knee injury.
Kerr explained the decision briefly, as well. From Connor Letourneau for the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It’s not worth it,” Kerr said. “It’s twinged. Throw him out there and he pulls it, and he’s out for a few weeks. Feel like an idiot. We’re going to [err] on the side of caution.”
Durant injured his calf on this play:
The forward, who signed with the team as a free agent in 2016, averaged 25.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists (over just 33 minutes a game) with his new club, finishing tops in the NBA with a 67-15 record. Durant missed significant time during the 2014-15 season with a right foot fracture and he missed 19 games and all of March after suffering a bone bruise and sprained left MCL against Washington on Feb. 28.
Stephen Curry, upon hearing news of Durant’s “questionable” status on Tuesday, gave the answer you’d expect:
“We’ve been in this situation very recently. So we understand it’s next man up.”
It is to Golden State’s great, perhaps award-winning, credit that the club should be able to withstand the loss of a former MVP on the fly.
The 28-year old not only acted as a go-to, 25-point star on the NBA’s best offensive team in 2016-17, but he at times worked as the league’s most fearsome emerging defensive talent upon his dive into the Warrior scheme. It speaks to Golden State’s legendary heft that even with Durant’s move into the realm of the untouchable two-way superstar, he is perhaps not the team’s best two-way player. Maybe not its second-best, either, on nights that Andre Iguodala would like to remember with more frequency.
The move forward does not come without obstacles.
Durant had to contribute a full 32 points, 11 rebounds and two assists in Game 1’s win, working his best against a Portland team that forced the Warriors into quite the battle. McCaw worked only 23 seconds in Game 1, Matt Barnes has not played in 11 days due to an ankle injury and Andre Iguodala has already admitted that “offensively, this may not be my series.”
And one can’t possibly trust bouncy Ian Clark, a guard who could move into a small Warrior lineup with Durant out, a 26-year old who nearly doubled his regular season averages against Portland during both four contests against the team in 2016-17, and Game 1, correct? Clark’s continued great play against PDX is just something that happens?
Ian Clark is 23-of-30 shooting vs Blazers this season. Says he "just saw" those stats, calls it a coincidence. pic.twitter.com/my8Blj5Sze
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 19, 2017
Poor Golden State. They’ll only have Draymond Green to fall back on.
Green took advantage of what was spread out before him in Game 1, dominating on both ends and finishing with a 19-point, 12-rebound, nine-assist, five-block, three-steal performance. Green will capably replace Durant’s production at a pair of positions, and while the next-man up scenario doesn’t often work when deep reserves are pushed into backup minutes, with Andre Iguodala available the Warriors will be able to hang.
As is annoyingly the case with Golden State, they’ll again work in the lap of luxury. Thankfully for just about everyone involved, the team’s depth will allow them to rest Durant, and survive in a spot that would typically topple a club at this time of year.
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