For tonight's game vs. New Orleans, Kevin Durant will play. Stephen Curry (left knee contusion) is out.
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) April 8, 2017
Curry is going to sit out tonight’s matchup due to a left knee contusion. Durant missed the Warriors’ last 19 games. Golden State went 15-4 over that span.
With Curry out, Kevin Durant should pick up a lot of the scoring duties for Golden State. The Warriors player will not have the reigning two-time MVP to help him get open shots.
Durant returned to practice on Friday and he had no issues with his left knee. Thus, he was cleared to return Saturday.
Furthermore, Durant completed a full 5-on-5 scrimmage without any setbacks. Hence, he is not expected to have a minute restriction.
Kevin Durant working against Steve Nash in first formal practice back from L knee injury. Should play Saturday if all goes as planned. pic.twitter.com/A8SDmSJXB9
— Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) April 7, 2017
Per the NBA website, Kevin Durant said the injury tested his patience. He said he could have hung his head over his sprained MCL and tibia bone bruise that happened on Feb. 28. The injury happened due to a freak accident, where Marcin Gortat threw Zaza Pachulia into Durant’s knee while battling for a rebound. Still, Durant said he stayed positive.
The Warriors forward said there were some days that he wanted to go over the deep end. However, he credited the training staff. Durant said they did a great job at keeping him sane over the past five weeks. The training staff helped him chip away at the injury every single day.
Kerr said he will monitor Durant’s fatigue and feel during the upcoming games. The Warriors have three meaningless games remaining in their regular season schedule.
The Warriors head coach said that these three games are perfect for Durant to get his conditioning, timing, and rhythm before the Playoffs. Golden State plays the Utah Jazz on Monday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Otherwise, Durant said he knew he could overcome the injury. He said he knows it will take some time for him to mentally feel like everything is okay. Nonetheless, he said that it felt normal after he practiced with the guys.
Moving forward, Durant said he will try to focus on each day. He said playing basketball is his favorite thing so it’s difficult to be away from the game. However, he kept his sights on the bigger picture. Now, that big picture is here as Kevin Durant is ready to return.
— Pelicans PR (@PelicansPR) April 8, 2017
Currently, the Pelicans are 33-46 and they are eliminated from playoff contention.
Meanwhile, the Warriors are on a 13-game winning streak as they have secured the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference Finals. At 65-14, the Warriors would play the Portland Trailblazers if the playoffs began today.
Durant was the 2013-14 MVP as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He joined the Warriors via free agency this past offseason. In his first season with the Warriors, Durant averaged 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists before the injury.
It remains to be seen how Durant’s return will impact the Warriors. CBS Sports‘ Sean Wagner-McGough said that it will be important to watch the Warriors’ rotations and how many minutes Durant plays, as well as Durant’s impact on Klay Thompson, Curry, and the rest of the Warriors.
Ultimately, Kevin Durant returns at 10:30 p.m. EST as the Golden State Warriors take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
[Featured Image by Chris Szagola/AP Images]