Kevin Durant practised with the Golden State Warriors for the first time since his injury at the weekend. Durant’s availability, or lack of, has been the story of the 2019 NBA Finals as the Toronto Raptors have taken a commanding 3-1 lead against the Warriors.
Steve Kerr said “there’s a chance” of Durant returning for Game Five.
The Warriors haven’t faced a challenge like this since Durant signed back in 2016. They were taken to seven by the Rockets last season, but an injury to Chris Paul changed the balance of the series. The Rockets had them on the ropes again this year, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson pulled them over the line even without Durant and DeMarcus Cousins.
A banged up Warriors – Thompson, Kevon Looney and Andre Iguodala are all playing through niggling issues – have struggled to live with the physical, deep Raptors. Curry was drained in Game Four after a heroic, but losing, Game Three display.
Coming back from 3-1 down is as good as impossible without Durant. With Durant, it would still be astonishing, as he’s obviously not 100% and this Warriors team would have to win games five and seven on the road.
If there’s anything that can further elevate this Warriors dynasty; it’s this.
Beating this Raptors team – who are really, really good – from this position, while carrying so many injuries, would be otherworldly ridiculous. And, the thing is, if Durant returns and is anywhere near himself, it’s certainly possible. These guys are that good.
Golden State when they have Durant are as close to unbeatable as any team in NBA history. Winning three straight is an almighty ask, but who knows?
Both teams are under pressure ahead of Monday night’s Game Five. Golden State’s dynasty is on the line. Toronto know a loss will shift the balance in this series.
If the Raptors do not seal the series on Monday night and Durant returns, are the Warriors favourites? Would anyone bet against the Warriors in Oakland in a Game Six?
These might be hypotheticals, but it’s not crazy to suggest the Greatest Team Ever can win on Monday. Even with the challenges of injuries, the Hampton’s Five are going to be a monumental challenge for Kawhi Leonard and co.
This series, mainly because of injuries, has been a bit of a damp squib so far. The return of the two-time Finals MVP would change that, and it may well mean there is one final game at Oracle Arena.
It seems bizarre to say this series is in the balance, but in its own, peculiar way, it is. Should Durant play on Monday, Game Five is beautifully poised. Should the Warriors win Game Five, it is as good as 50-50 for the title.
There’s perhaps no greater testament to the Warriors’ greatness than how relatively level this series seems.