TORONTO (CBS SF) — By Sunday evening, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will know if injured star forward Kevin Durant is able to play in must-win Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Appearing before reporters, Kerr said Durant would practice with the team Sunday as they stay on the court for a much tougher workout with reserve players.
How Durant responds and recovers will dictate his return. After being one of the most dominating players in the 2019 post-season, Durant went down with an injured calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston.
The Warriors were able to advance without him — upsetting Houston on the road in Game 6 and sweeping Portland — but have struggled against Toronto which now holds a 3-1 series advantage and is on the brink of their first NBA title.
“He’s going to practice with us today and he’ll get some extra work in with some of our younger players,” Kerr said. “We’ll gauge it from there.”
Warriors fans may not find out what Kerr learned until near game time Monday.
Asked if he was more hopeful than he has been since the injury, Kerr said: “Yes, because he hasn’t done — what he’s going to do today — he hasn’t done. So he’s doing more today and we’ll know more after that.”
Even if he does play, Durant’s condition is a concern. He has not been in game action in more than a month.
Kerr said the coaching staff has prepared game plans with and without Durant in the lineup.
“The game plan changes if Kevin is out there,” the Warriors coach said. “So you adapt accordingly — it changes matchups, it changes rotations — all that stuff.”
No matter if Durant plays or not, Kerr said the team’s overall mood is positive.
The Warriors know both sides of 3-1 advantages or deficits in playoffs. Golden State trailed Oklahoma City with Durant in their lineup, 3-1 in the 2016 playoff and rallied to win. In the NBA Finals that year, they saw a 3-1 advantage disappear to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs.
“The mood is good,” Kerr said. “We still got plenty to play for … today will will watch the film and go through practice and talk about the things we can clean up … We have an amazing opportunity and challenge and we’re going to do everything we can to meet that challenge.”
As for his other key players — Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney — he said both came through Game 4 well and will play Monday.
“One of the things that has been a bit of the struggle with the injuries is finding the combinations in terms of the numbers that we have and the minutes guys are playing,” he said. “We are just trying to find patterns that can help everybody who is out on the floor … The last game, even though it was frustrating, it was a step forward getting Klay and Loon back … We have a better sense of what we can do.”
Thompson, who scored 28 points while playing with an injured hamstring in Game 4, said he was 80 percent in that contest and should be close to 100 percent Monday.
“I did not feel good after the game (Game 4),” Thompson said. “I’m a little sore but more mentally and emotionally. It sucks losing, any finals loss it hard. Physically, I feel great. I was at 80 percent the other night. I’ll be inching close to 90, closer to 100 by tomorrow.”
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