Kevin Durant will play in Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight (9 p.m. ET on ABC). Durant was officially listed as questionable before Warriors coach Steve Kerr confirmed the two-time Finals MVP would indeed take the court for the first time since the Western Conference semifinals
“He’s been cleared, so he’s going to play,” Kerr said roughly 90 minutes before tip.
Durant has been sidelined for more than a month with a strained calf. The Warriors trail the Toronto Raptors 3-1 in the title series, meaning their quest for a third consecutive NBA championship could end Monday.
Durant spent about 25 minutes on the court before leaving toward the end of the Warriors’ shootaround session for continued treatment. Additionally, Kerr had said that if Durant does play tonight, there would be no firm minutes restriction for him.
He was cleared by the Warriors’ medical staff after Game 4 of the NBA Finals and practiced with the team on Sunday for the first time since his injury. Durant averaged 26.0 points per game for the Warriors during the regular season and 34.2 points in 11 playoff games before he got hurt in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston.
The Warriors are 6-3 in the nine games Durant has missed.
“It’s just having another powerful weapon out there who can do some very dynamic things on the floor,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said on Sunday.
Kerr said the plan was to see if Durant could clear some hurdles that he hasn’t crossed during his recovery. Kerr said earlier in the series that Durant could return after completing one practice.
In a lighter moment after Monday’s shootaround concluded, Kerr nailed a shot from halfcourt that drew cheers from Warriors players.
Coach still got it 🎯 pic.twitter.com/BAWxhRLBLc
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 10, 2019
Toronto allowed Kobe Bryant to score 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006. In the 1,175 Raptors games since, the most anyone has scored against them is 51 points – done twice, done both times in Toronto, and done both times by Durant.
He had 51 for Oklahoma City in Toronto on March 21, 2014, and scored 51 for the Warriors on the Raptors’ home floor back on Nov. 29. Even if he isn’t 100%, Durant’s mere presence should make the Warriors more potent on the offensive end.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.