Barber: Signs point to Kevin Durant’s return in Game 5

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TORONTO — The most scrutinized muscle in NBA history helped propel Kevin Durant’s right leg off the court, down a hallway and into the visitors’ locker room at Scotiabank Arena at around 12:05 p.m. local time Monday.

Durant has a bad calf. You may have heard. But all signs point to his return tonight in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a welcome bit of news for a Warriors team that is perched on the brink of elimination and in desperate need of another scoring threat.

“He went through full shootaround, and he went back to get treatment, so we’ll list him as game-time decision,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the light practice session. “But it looked good and we’ll see where it all goes.”

Durant was leading the NBA with a 34.2-point postseason scoring average when he limped off the court at Oracle Arena on May 8. The Warriors closed out the Houston Rockets and swept the Portland Trail Blazers without him, but have struggled to match the Toronto Raptors’ length and speed in the NBA Finals. They trail 3-1 in the series after back-to-back losses in Oakland.

Durant’s prognosis has been a moving target since he sustained the injury, and he has barely talked to reporters, leading to uncertainty and chagrin among Warriors fans, and even teammates.

“It’s been frustrating,” Kerr acknowledged. “And we talked about it when the injury occurred. Pretty vague. A lot of gray area. One of the first things Rick (Celebrini, the Warriors’ director of sports medicine and performance) told me was that calves could be a couple weeks, could be a couple months. … Muscular stuff, it’s a little tougher to gauge than a joint. When you combine that with the scrutiny and the media coverage of the Finals — (Durant’s) been in the spotlight — it’s tough.”

The Warriors will be facing a massively hostile environment when Game 5 tips off at 6 p.m. Pacific time. They’ll take any advantage they can find, and it’s harder to imagine a bigger one than the return of the man who claimed the past two NBA Finals MVP awards, even if Durant is less than 100 percent physically.

“You worry about the conditioning,” Kerr said. “The skill obviously is undeniable. He’s a guy who can get a shot off anytime he wants. He’s been in similar situations with us where he’s had long layoffs. He’s Kevin Durant. If we have him out there, he’ll be a threat, we know that.”

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