(Reuters) – Golden State Warriors’ title defence may now hobble along with their leader Kevin Durant who suffered a calf injury on Wednesday that makes him doubtful for the playoffs.
May 8, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) dunks the basketball against the Houston Rockets during the first half in game five of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Ezra Shaw/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Durant limped off the court with a non-contact right leg injury during the third quarter of his team’s Game Five battle with Houston Rockets.
His team announced that Durant had sustained a calf strain and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.
Despite the Warriors pulling off a 104-99 triumph to take a 3-2 best-of-seven second round series edge, the mood is now one of concern for the two-time defending champions who know their path to another NBA Finals would be substantially tougher without Durant.
“We’re excited about the win but concerned for Kevin,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “He’s been on this incredible playoff run. I’m proud of our guys for pulling the game out, and we’ll see how Kevin is doing (Thursday).”
A Finals MVP in each of the last two Golden State title runs, Durant entered Wednesday’s game averaging 36 points in the first four games of the series and 35.4 points in this year’s postseason.
The Warriors have become even more reliant on him against the Rockets as sharpshooter Stephen Curry has gone cold and is connecting on just 26 percent of his three-pointer attempts.
Curry fought through his struggles late Wednesday to score 12 fourth-quarter points that helped push the Warriors past Houston.
“It’s just next man up mentality. It’s the perspective you have to have,” Curry said. “(Durant’s) done a lot for us and we have to have his back. That’s what tonight was about.”
If Durant cannot play on Friday, when the series resumes with Game Six in Houston, the Warriors may need a vintage performance from three-time champion Curry.
“If Kevin is out, what you saw in the fourth quarter is what you’re going to have to see going forward,” Kerr said. “We’re going to have to find a way.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty