Kevin Durant's injury more serious than initially thought by Warriors

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OAKLAND — Kevin Durant’s calf strain is worse than the Warriors initially thought.

On Friday, the Warriors flew to Portland without Durant for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Trail Blazers. Durant stayed home to rehab.

He suffered the calf injury on Wednesday, May 8, during Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. Eight days later, on Thursday, the Warriors’ medical staff reevaluated Durant just before Game 2 against the Blazers. The medical staff determined he still is not ready to practice or play in a game. The Warriors will reevaluate him next Thursday.

“(Durant) has made progress, but it’s a little more serious than we thought at the very beginning,” Steve Kerr said Thursday night after Game 2. “We’ll see where it all goes, but he’s in there all day long getting treatment. He has done a great job of committing himself to that process. Hopefully, he’ll be back at some point. We’ll wait and see.”

Kerr met with the media again Friday afternoon and shared more insight into Durant’s ailment: “With a calf injury, there’s a wide range of how long a guy is going to be out. He’s had them in the past where he was out a week or 10 days. But right from the beginning, (Warriors Sports Medicine Director) Rick (Celebrini) was telling me that you really can’t put a number of days or weeks on this.

“There’s a big range of how long it could be, depending on how he responds and how bad the strain is. This one is taking a little bit longer than the ones he’s had in the past, but that’s OK. He’s coming along well. If he continues to improve at the rate he is improving now, we’re confident he’ll be back. We just don’t know when.”

The Warriors have not revealed the severity of Durant’s calf strain — Grade 1 or Grade 2. If it’s a Grade 1 strain, he probably would be back by now, because Grade 1 strains take seven to 10 days to heal. Grade 2 strains typically take four to six weeks. If Durant has a Grade 2 strain, he probably won’t return until June 5 at the earliest, which means he could miss the rest of this series against the Blazers.

Does Durant have a Grade 2 strain?

Kerr wouldn’t rule it out. “I’m not going to get technical with that, because I’m not sure it’s that simple,” he said on Friday. “MRIs aren’t always perfect. There is definitely some gray area with any injury, but with a calf injury especially. It’s going to be how he responds to the treatment and how his body recovers over the next days and however long it takes.”

Durant is averaging 34.2 points per game in the postseason. “Best player in the playoffs, for sure,” Kerr said. But the Warriors haven’t missed Durant yet. They’re 3-0 without him in the playoffs and currently lead the Blazers 2-0. While Durant has been injured, the rest of the Warriors have played exceptionally well. Stephen Curry is averaging 35.3 points, Klay Thompson is averaging 25.7 points and Draymond Green is averaging 10 rebounds per game without Durant.

The Warriors’ bench has played well, too.

“We’re playing more people,” Kerr said. “We’re not relying on one person to replace Kevin. We’re relying on three of four. Without Kevin, we need Quinn Cook’s shooting. We need Jonas Jerebko’s shooting and defense. We need Jordan Bell’s rebounding and shot-blocking.”

Cook, Jerebko and Bell each have averaged more than 10 minutes per game since Durant went down. They hardly played when he was healthy. Cook played just 18 seconds during the first five games against the Rockets. Now, the Warriors need him and the rest of the bench to play significant minutes until Durant returns, whenever that may be.

Kerr, a former NBA bench player himself, can relate to the challenge of being asked to play more minutes. “I had plenty of playoff runs where I didn’t play for five or six games, and then all of a sudden I got thrown into the mix. It’s a hard job, but you have to be ready for it. It is your job. The way to stay ready is to stay engaged and to get shots up, whether it’s after the games like Quinn (Cook) or before practice like Jonas (Jerebko).

“Part of being a real pro in the NBA is being able to deliver when you haven’t played for a stretch. We’ve got a lot of guys who are doing that right now. They can all play, or else they wouldn’t be in the NBA. We trust them to come in and deliver.”

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