Trainers around the league surprised Kevin Durant played 12 of first 14 minutes of Game 5
The phrase “12 in 14” quickly became prominent in the Kevin Durant witch trials after he likely suffered a season-ending Achilles injury upon his return to the court for the Golden State Warriors after a 32-day layoff, following a strained calf injury.
Durant had played 12 of the Game’s first 14 minutes, playing the first 6:11 of the game upon his return to the starting lineup and re-entering at the 3:33 mark, playing the remainder of the quarter and starting the second.
“Just seems unacceptable,” a longtime director of performance told Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports. “Doesn’t make any sense.”
“They may have said, once the leg is warm, ride it,” said another rival training staff member. “But I can’t imagine (Durant) did enough work to determine 12 minutes out of 14 was appropriate.”
According to the Warriors, the decision to play those heavy minutes was a joint one between Durant and the training staff.
As Haberstroh reports, “the plan going into the game was to take Durant out when he felt tired,” but that wasn’t as quick as the Warriors had expected.
There’s also been some underlying concern that the initial injury that forced him out of the playoffs was a partial Achilles tear instead of a strained calf.
General manager Bob Myers shot that down during an emotional post-game press conference to break the news.
“This is not a calf injury,” Myers said. “I’m not a doctor, I don’t know how those are related or not, but it’s a different injury.”
Others believe this could be a very natural result of the kinetic chain being affected by compensating for the calf’s strain.
“The calf is not an isolated muscle but a dynamic muscle complex,” wrote Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer and operator of the injury tracker InStreetClothes.com. “Playing through a strained calf can increase the chances of a secondary injury occurring somewhere else along the kinetic chain. The hamstring muscle group is particularly susceptible to injury when the calf is limited due to their synergistic relationship.”
Yet it wasn’t Durant’s hamstring that gave out, but his Achilles tendon, as a slo-mo replay of his drive against Serge Ibaka shows the ripple of the muscle giving out.
— ACL Recovery Club (@ACLrecoveryCLUB) June 11, 2019
Regardless of culpability, Durant now will likely have a long road to recover from this injury, missing time at the peak of his prime, and perhaps at the worst possible moment, as he was bound to enter free agency once again, looking to lock down a major return for his basketball talents.