The Warriors could get a big boost from Kevin Durant if he returns for Game 5 of the NBA Finals after missing nine straight games in the 2019 postseason.
Kevin Durant will be in the starting lineup for Game 5 of the NBA Finals Monday, Monte Pool of NBC Sports Bay Area reports.
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr told reporters Durant was a game-time decision after he went through shootaround earlier in the day, but there was still uncertainty if Durant would be on the court for the potential-season-ending contest in Toronto, which will be played at 9 p.m. ET.
Golden State has been without the reigning two-time Finals MVP for its last nine postseason games since he strained his calf in Game 5 of their second-round series against the Rockets, but only the Raptors have been able to take advantage of Durant's absence. After winning five straight games without Durant—a series-clinching victory in Houston and a sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals—the Warriors have struggled against Toronto and are now down 3-1 in the championship series.
With Durant on the sideline throughout the series, talk of his injury and the possible return has almost overshadowed the actual play on the court at times. It was reported that Durant's workout prior to Golden State's Game 4 loss did not go well. However, he participated in practice on Sunday, went through some additional work with younger players and had his status for the game updated to questionable.
Still, there has been a conversation about just how hurt Durant is and whether or not he should be trying to push himself more and play through the strained calf. Sam Amick of The Athletic reports that after Game 4 "irritation grew" in the locker room "in large part because they simply didn’t understand why [Durant] wasn't there" after there was "real hope" he'd return for that contest. This comes after Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and DeMarcus Cousins all returned this postseason from what appeared to be major injuries.
In 11 games this postseason, Durant has averaged 34.2 points on 51.3% shooting and 41.6% shooting from three. He is also contributing 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 1 block per game.