Warriors to start Kevin Durant in NBA Finals Game 5, play him in ‘short bursts’
Kevin Durant will officially play for the Golden State Warriors against the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. According to head coach Steve Kerr, however, KD will play in ‘short bursts’ to see how he responds in his first game back from a calf injury.
Durant hasn’t played since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. He missed nine straight games, including their sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference finals.
Steve Kerr on everything Durant brings to the table:
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) June 10, 2019
While Durant was initially listed as a game-time decision, there was never really a doubt that he would play. After all, it could be the final game of the Warriors this season if they lose to the Raptors. Toronto leads the series 3-1 after winning both of their road games at Oracle Arena.
Durant’s return is certainly a huge boost to the team, and as Kerr noted, they are hopeful that the presence of the two-time Finals MVP will help “normalize” the role of the bench players — one which has been greatly affected due to various injuries in the team.
Kerr: “We’re hoping that Kevin’s return can sort of normalize the bench players roles.”
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) June 10, 2019
Prior to his injury, Durant was averaging 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block per game in this year’s playoffs. He also had three 45-plus point games, including a 50-point explosion in Game 6 of the first round against the LA Clippers.