Blazers present new challenge to Warriors

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Subscribe

NBA PLAYOFFS

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

Game 1 at GS: Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Game 2 at GS: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Game 3 at POR: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Game 4 at POR: May 20, 6 p.m.

Game 5 at GS: May 22, 6 p.m.*

Game 6 at POR: May 24, 6 p.m.*

Game 7 at GS: May 26, 6 p.m.*

All games on ESPN

* if necessary

OAKLAND — Sure, the Warriors may beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. But the Warriors may have to beat them without Kevin Durant. He could miss the entire series with a strained right calf.

Durant is “not that close” to returning, head coach Steve Kerr confirmed Monday afternoon at the Warriors practice facility.

“Everyone needs to slow down a little bit on the Kevin stuff,” Kerr said while looking down and shaking his head. “He hasn’t even stepped on the floor yet. We have tried to remain somewhat vague, because the injury is really open-ended in terms of how long he’s going to need to recover. But I think in doing so, people have gotten the idea that he’s going to come back and be Willis Reed or something. He hasn’t even stepped on the floor yet. He still has pain. There’s some time ahead of him in the rehab process. We’ll have a more detailed update on Thursday.”

Durant strained his calf Wednesday, May 8 with two minutes left in the third quarter of Game 5 against the Houston Rockets. Durant sank a jump shot, turned and jogged down court. As he began to run, he started hopping in a circle while holding his lower right leg, then limped straight to the Warriors locker room.

The Warriors still haven’t said whether Durant suffered a Grade 1 or Grade 2 calf strain. If it’s Grade 1, that injury takes seven to 10 days to heal, which means Durant could return Saturday for Game 3 in Portland. But, if it’s a Grade 2 strain, that injury takes four to six weeks to heal, meaning Durant could miss the rest of the playoffs.

Whatever the case, Durant probably won’t start practicing until a couple days after he’s pain free. The Warriors most likely will give him a few days to practice before they play him in a game to reduce the risk of reinjuring his calf.

Same goes for DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his quadriceps on April 15 during Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Clippers. Cousins has made progress with his rehab and hopes to return for the playoffs, according to published reports. But, Kerr said it’s “unlikely” Cousins will return against the Blazers.

“He hasn’t had any live stuff on the court yet,” Kerr said. “He is not that close, either. If a guy hasn’t even seen any live action the day before the first game of the series, it’s tough to see that turning around quickly. Hopefully, another week goes by, things start to get better and now we have a better prognosis. At this point, we’re getting ready for this series without both of them (Cousins and Durant).”

The Warriors certainly have the talent and championship pedigree to beat the Blazers without Durant and Cousins. Two years ago, the Warriors faced the Blazers during the first round of the playoffs, before Cousins was on the team. Durant missed two games with a strained calf, and the Warriors still swept the series.

But, the Blazers have improved since then. They added a few key role players — starting center Enes Kanter, backup center Zach Collins and backup shooting guard Seth Curry, Steph’s younger brother.

NBA PLAYOFFS

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

Game 1 at GS: Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Game 2 at GS: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Game 3 at POR: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Game 4 at POR: May 20, 6 p.m.

Game 5 at GS: May 22, 6 p.m.*

Game 6 at POR: May 24, 6 p.m.*

Game 7 at GS: May 26, 6 p.m.*

All games on ESPN

* if necessary

And the Blazers still have an excellent backcourt featuring All-Star point guard Damian Lillard and outstanding shooting guard CJ McCollum. Lillard recently scored 50 points and hit a buzzer-beater 3-point shot during an elimination game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And McCollum scored 37 points Sunday while eliminating the Denver Nuggets on the road in Game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals.

“(McCollum) has gotten better, for sure,” Curry said on Monday. “Dame and C.J. are better players (than two years ago), so you’ve got to be prepared for that. And they’re more confident. They’ve been through some tough series, and they’ve battled back to get to this point this year. We’ve got to be ready for higher intensity.”

Through two playoff series this season, Lillard and McCollum have combined to score 54 points per game. Meanwhile, Curry and Klay Thompson have combined to score only 42.6 points per game. So, the Blazers backcourt may be able to keep pace with the Warriors backcourt. For the Warriors to win the series, they will need significant contributions from their frontcourt players, especially if Durant can’t play.

“They’re a beautiful team to watch,” Kerr said about the Blazers. “They have great chemistry. They play through adversity. They’ve had their share of injuries and more, and yet they continue to succeed. They’ve come up in big moments and performed. There’s an energy about them you can feel. They believe in themselves. They’re here for a reason. They’re having a spectacular season, and will give us all we can handle.”

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine