Report: Kevin Durant hopes to return from injury on Saturday

There are no more comforting words in an injured player’s vocabulary than these three: Ahead of schedule.

Kevin Durant apparently is embracing that diagnosis, because according to ESPN, the Golden State Warriors are eyeing Saturday against the Pelicans as the date for Durant’s return. The All-Star forward suffered a scary knee sprain causing him to miss the last 17 games, and only recently returned to non-contact drills. Yet if the report holds firm, Durant will suit up a week earlier than expected.

He did accompany the team on its recent road trip, where he did pre-game shooting drills and even dunked on several occasions. He was scheduled to undergo another evaluation on Wednesday at the earliest. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Durant didn’t experience any setbacks during his recovery or shooting drills.

There was some speculation that the Warriors would keep him off the floor completely until the playoffs began, healthy or not. But perhaps the club and/or Durant would rather have a few tune-up games before the postseason. This would give him three games to break a sweat and shake off any rust.

In the meantime, the Warriors have caught fire without Durant, winning 11 straight and showing much of the mettle that helped them reach the NBA Finals back-to-back years before Durant signed up last summer. Steph Curry in particular has thrived; he scored 42 points on 15-for-22 shooting Sunday against John Wall in a blasting of the Wizards. During the winning streak, Curry has averaged 27 points, eight assists and 4.5 rebounds.