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Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins says he’s struggling with his conditioning

DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors

DeMarcus Cousins managed to salvage what would have been a disappointing return from injury in his first-ever NBA Finals, likely headed for a DNP until Kevin Durant’s injury carved out an opportunity for him. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr put Cousins into the game as soon as Durant was helped to the locker room, getting seven straight points from his big center, who is still struggling to find his conditioning:

“It was an easy moment to crumble,” Cousins told Anthony Slater of The Athletic on Wednesday. “So just tried to bring a positive spark.”

“His approach, his attitude,” Kerr said. “Fantastic.”

It was those seven quick points that gave the Warriors a double-digit lead despite missing Durant — one they couldn’t keep for long, yet still showed signs of resilience and fight in light of the spooky injury to their star.

Cousins had a strong Game 2, putting up 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks in 28 minutes, yet failed to bring that same intensity and control in Games 3 and 4, when the Warriors sorely needed his help.

Kerr was bound to keep him on the bench for the entirety of a do-or-die Game 5, but was forced to put out an impact player to give his Warriors a chance in the game:

“I don’t (know how the body will feel day to day),” Cousins admitted. “I don’t know. But I just try to push through. I’m still at the point where I’m trying to train my legs to be at that level 100 percent of the time. I just haven’t had time to focus on that. It’s hard to condition midseason. It’s hard to get that balance of conditioning, rest, being ready to play. It’s a hard balance. I need the offseason, when that can be the priority.”

The Warriors will direly need Cousins’ legs the rest of the way, as Durant isn’t coming back through that tunnel and his teammates will need those glimpses of the dominant big man he once was to have a chance to three-peat.