OAKLAND – The Golden State Warriors did not risk Kevin Durant getting a worse injury than the strained calf muscle that sidelined him for Game 2 of their playoff series against Portland.
Durant injured the calf during a Game 1 victory Sunday, when he had 32 points and 10 rebounds in his playoff debut for Golden State. He didn’t practice Tuesday and wasn’t seen at the team’s morning shootaround Wednesday. Coach Steve Kerr then made the announcement during his pregame press conference.
“It’s not worth it,” Kerr said. “We’re going to err on the side of caution, sit him out and hopefully another few days of rest will get him right.”
Guard Shaun Livingston also is out with an injured hand, while forward Matt Barnes is still working back from a sprained right ankle and foot. Portland center Jusuf Nurkic also was out after he missed the final seven regular-season games with a nondisplaced fracture in his right leg.
“We’re pretty thin,” Kerr said, hopeful of having a healthy lineup by Saturday’s Game 3. “Obviously we’ve still got lots of good players. We’re lucky. We’ve got a lot of talent and we’ve won plenty of games in the last couple years with guys down and that’s the plan tonight. Look, Nurkic is out. This is the NBA. Injuries happen and things happen. You just have to play with whatever you’ve got just like Portland is doing now without their starting center.”
Sitting KD wasn’t that surprising because the Warriors planned to be extra cautious with their superstar, who recently returned for the last three games of the regular season after being sidelined for 19 games with a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee and bruised tibia.
While the Warriors struggled initially with Durant sidelined, they also produced a 14-game winning streak and locked up the NBA’s best record for a third straight year.
“We were 15-5 without him,” Klay Thompson said, referring to the Warriors’ record including the game when Durant got hurt. “We had a tough stretch without him as well. We learned that we’ve got to do this collectively. No one’s going to make up for what Kevin does individually. It’s impossible.”
Naturally, Durant was disappointed, Kerr said.
“I can tell you, I’ve seen these injuries before. You don’t want the next step. You pull a calf, that’s a pretty serious deal,” Kerr said. “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. It just doesn’t make sense. He understands that.”