Kevin Durant wasn’t ‘anywhere close to 100%’ upon return for Game 5 of NBA Finals
As many expected ahead of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant would make his return to the court feeling less than fully himself after suffering a “mild” strained calf injury.
Yet the situation called for urgency, down 3-1 in the series and risking elimination with another loss.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports noted the practice session he went through on Sunday and the on-court work he did with the staff ahead of Monday’s game was not enough to put him anywhere close to 100% of his capacity.
“Durant was not anywhere close to 100 percent,” wrote Haynes. “The individual workout sessions and the light practice session on Sunday could not simulate the rigors of an ultra-competitive championship game.”
That showed clearly in the second quarter, when Durant attempted to blow past Serge Ibaka on the right wing and applying way more torque than his Achilles tendon could happen, visibly popping and giving out after he attempted to take a first step through his defender.
The Scotiabank Arena crowd clapped intensively once Durant hit the floor, only quieting after pleading from Kyle Lowry and the rest of the Toronto Raptors urged for some semblance of class. Those claps soon turned into chants of “KD, KD,” but not before the ugliness of competitive basketball had reared its head through that immediate stretch.
Some members of the NBA training staff community showed concern for Durant’s load management, as he played in 12 of the first 14 minutes of the game before suffering the injury.
Klay Thompson, who comforted Durant upon him first suffering the injury, noted the Warriors pulled off the unthinkable in Game 5 because of him, and will continue to be propelled by his memory.
“We do it for Kevin,” Thompson said. “We do it for K. We know … I can tell you this, he wants us to compete at the highest level, and we’ll think of him every time we step on the hardwood.”