Durant not going to be risked in game three
This may turn out to be the biggest game of the Golden State Warriors’ season so far, but this does not mean they are prepared to take major risks to injure players to try and grab the win. After all, they have enough problems already.
Despite being the best team in the NBA over the last several seasons, injury troubles are mounting, with a lack of match fitness and general conditioning threatening to become a major factor for the Warriors for game three.
They hoped that superstar Kevin Durant would be welcomed back into the fold by now, but they did not rush his return from a calf injury, with the possibility that he could return after just one practise now looking unlikely.
He is back training on the courts but not with the main squad, and in a match of such vital importance, it seems now that risking it will not be something coach Steve Kerr is prepared to do.
Game three is huge because it could well point to everything that happens next. An easy win for the Warriors on their home would mean that the Toronto Raptors would return in game four knowing another loss would find them only one more loss away from defeat in the NBA Finals. However, if the Raptors win here on Wednesday night, the Warriors may feel they have little choice but to throw their stars into the fray regardless of what damage it could do.
Game four comes in quick succession this Friday, and Kerr is keeping tight-lipped about whether this will come too soon for Durant, who has been sidelined since a Houston Rockets match in round two in early May.
Klay Thompson is another worry due to a tight hamstring but says it will be a “game-time decision” whether he makes it onto the court, with Golden State’s options otherwise thin on the ground. Alongside Draymond Green and Steph Curry, they were boosted in game two by the return of DeMarcus Cousins, but even he cannot be counted on for the entire game. This is expected to be where tweaking tactics and bench play decide the outcome, as Kerr is not the kind of coach to worry about throwing caution to the wind.
In terms of their bench, Kevon Looney is now ruled out of the rest of the series, and Andre Iguodala spent part of game two nursing his leg. The chances of them getting a result would be slipping if they were any other team, but it is impossible to discount the Golden State Warriors under any circumstances.
However, there will not be a better time in the series for Toronto to put them under serious pressure, now that they know they have some new match-ups to consider in game three.
Words: Jack Creighton