Warriors clear Kevin Durant for full practice, eye Saturday for his return

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4244/" data-ylk="slk:Kevin Durant">Kevin Durant</a> could be back on Saturday, and the Warriors are giddy. (AP)
Kevin Durant could be back on Saturday, and the Warriors are giddy. (AP)

Two days after ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported Kevin Durant was nearing a return from a knee injury that cost him more than five weeks of the regular season, the Golden State Warriors cleared the former NBA Most Valuable Player for full-contact practice and confirmed he is on target to play Saturday.

“Following multiple workout sessions in recent days — including 2-on-2, 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 scrimmages — forward Kevin Durant has been cleared by the team’s medical and athletic training staffs to return to full-team practices,” the statement read. “If he does not suffer any setbacks following tomorrow’s practice, it is anticipated that Durant will play in Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena.

Durant has missed the last 19 games after suffering a Grade 2 left MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 28.

It was a brief statement, but a big relief for Warriors fans concerned Durant’s rehab might linger into the playoffs. Now, the only concerns for Golden State are how close their fourth All-Star is to 100 percent and how quickly they can incorporate him back into a system that’s flourished in his absence.

The Warriors have won 13 straight games after a stretch of five losses in seven outings that began when Durant went down against the Wizards. In Durant’s absence, Stephen Curry has found the form that made him the two-time reigning MVP and seemed lost following KD’s arrival in 2016 free agency. In the process, Golden State clinched the NBA’s best record and homecourt throughout the playoffs.

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Still, nobody in the Bay Area will be complaining about adding an eight-time All-Star back into the mix of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green that was already picking up steam entering the playoffs. With as many as three games to get his legs back underneath him before the playoffs, Kevin Durant’s return makes the Warriors as dangerous as ever, and that’s bad news for the rest of the NBA.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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