Following a left-calf strain that occurred in Game 1, the Golden State Warriors deemed it necessary to sit most valuable player and rebounder Kevin Durant from the Game 2. Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr previously said that “it’s not worth it. His calf is twinged. Throw him out there and he pulls it and he’s out for a few weeks, you feel like an idiot. So we’re going to err on the side of caution and sit him out. Hopefully, another few days of rest will get him right.”
It was noticeable that Durant was not around during practice on Tuesday. Rumors of the star player skipping Game 2 had already been going around until it was finally confirmed on Wednesday. But this isn’t the first time Durant has missed a game. He also missed 19 games because of a Grade 2 Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) sprain and tibial bone bruise in February. After being diagnosed, he was put on an indefinite leave from the team. He was, however, able to play again after showing progress and recovery.
Kerr understands the importance of Durant sitting out Game 2. He thought doing so would be better and more beneficial for the team in the long run. He was aware of the possibilities and outcome, should anything go wrong. And he isn’t someone who would risk losing his star player for a very reckless move. Although he acknowledges that Durant wants to play the game, he would rather let him have time to recuperate from his calf strain for the next couple of days.
“He’s bummed out, he wants to play, for sure, but he knows that we’ve got to do the wise thing, we’ve got to do the smart thing long term.”
To some, this is a crucial decision which could affect the fate of the playoffs. According to CSNBayArea, “the championship season, as visualized, is in jeopardy.” The outlet went on to add, “this much is certain: no one or two or even three players can give what Durant does. No player in the league is tougher to defend because no player has his combination of length, agility, athleticism and inside/outside shooting ability.” Durant scored 32 points in Game 1 with 11 rebounds, according to ESPN.
Aside from Kevin Durant, guard Shaun Livingston was also out with an injured hand, and forward Matt Barnes is still recovering from a sprained ankle and foot, giving the team two less players in the rotation. Many thought that this could be the end for the Golden State Warriors’ winning streak as they were coming into the game vulnerable and with a diminished team.
The Warriors, with the absence of Kevin Durant, still proved to be golden versus the Portland Trail Blazers, finishing off with a 110-81 win at Oracle Arena to take a 2-0 lead in the seven-game series. How did they do it? Stephen Curry attributes it to their defense.
“You’ve got to be aggressive. Obviously, you’re missing 25 points, 26 points [out of] the lineup. So the shot is available you kind of do it a different way. But tonight we didn’t really get it going much or consistently throughout the game. We had some dry spots, but we won the game with our defense tonight.”
Their opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, also played the game without their center, Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a right leg fracture and is currently recovering.
Many fans are anxiously awaiting Game 3 on Saturday at Portland. Although Steve Kerr acknowledges that injuries happen during NBA games, he is still hopeful to have “a healthy line-up” by then. Everyone is also hoping to see Kevin Durant back on the court this weekend.
[Featured Image by Mario Jose Sanchez/AP Images]