After injuring his calf on a non-contact play, Warriors forward Kevin Durant left the Game 5 win against the Houston Rockets on Thursday (all times AEST) near the end of the third quarter, not to return. He will undergo an MRI on Friday to determine the severity of the injury.
This is the second time Durant has injured his calf in his postseason career, missing two games during the second round of 2017.
There may be bigger ramifications if Durant cannot come back for the end of the Houston series. Golden State took a 3-2 lead after the win today but are still not finished with one of their hardest playoff opponents.
Heading back to Houston for Game 6, the Warriors will have to find a way to replace his 36 points on 46/48/85 shooting splits.
Following Durant’s departure, it was centre Kevon Looney who took Durant’s place to close the game and he performed well, blocking Chris Paul on a crucial final-minute layup and grabbing five offensive rebounds, some down the stretch giving the Warriors another vital shot.
Steve Kerr didn’t look to Alfonso McKinnie at all however, the backup wing only managed five minutes of game time despite the hole on the wing Durant left. This was lower than his previous four games average of around ten minutes.
If Durant does miss time, Kerr will have to trust his bench more, especially with the absence of Demarcus Cousins and the team already starting the ‘Hamptons Five’.
Whether it’s a higher workload for Shaun Livingston or looking to Jonas Jerebko, it’ll be interesting to see how they can guard the Rockets backcourt who specialise in isolating slow-footed players (according to NBA.com/stats, Houston in the playoffs, 51 percent of their made shots are unassisted).
Encouraging for the Warriors is the play of Klay Thompson today, he had 27 points on 55 percent shooting and started off strong in the first half. Despite his defense, Thompson had been quite ineffective shooting 30 percent from three in the series before Game 5.
Game 6 between these two teams will take place on Saturday May 11 at 11am.