Warriors

Doctor explains what to expect from Kevin Durant in NBA Finals Game 5

Doctor explains what to expect from Kevin Durant in NBA Finals Game 5

The moment Kevin Durant hopped around and grabbed his lower right leg last month, all of Twitter turned into doctors, proclaiming the Warriors star injured his Achilles tendon.

Relax. An actual doctor thought the same thing.

"Based on the video of the injury, I did believe that this was an Achilles tendon injury," Dr. Selene Parekh, co-founder of The Fantasy Doctors, told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday about Durant's calf strain.

Parekh, who is co-chief of the Foot and Ankle Division at Duke University, has seen recent videos of Durant walking -- not practicing -- and offered his take on how he expects the Warriors forward to look after sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole that he'll play Monday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

Right away, Parekh noted that he believes Durant still would be sidelined if this was the regular season.

"In his first game back, I think he will not be as effective," Parekh said. "He will likely decrease his speed, agility, mobility and time on the court. This will hurt his ability to go up and down the court, driving to the basket and even shooting 3-pointers."

Durant, who will play in his first game since May 8, has missed 32 days of action, and many have questioned why his absence has taken so long. But Parekh noted that calf injuries can be tricky.

"The calf is funny," he said. "It is big and muscular but, like the hamstring, needs time to heal. Otherwise, this becomes a nagging injury."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr will insert Durant back into the starting lineup with the team facing elimination in the best-of-seven series, and he isn't expected to put a minutes restriction on the two-time Finals MVP. That said, Durant surely will be closely monitored.

Parekh said a complete tear of the calf is rare, though the longer Durant plays, the more of a question mark his status will be.

"Given the importance of this game, look for KD to push through the pain," Parekh said. "As fatigue and dehydration set in, especially in the third and fourth quarters, he can reinjure the calf, have a more severe strain, and if his mechanics are way off ... be at risk for a tear."

Durant initially injured his calf after draining a shot. The Warriors will need plenty of Durant's shot-making as their hampered offense has suffered lately with his loss. However, cutting -- not jumping -- is what will be most difficult for Durant, according to Parekh.

[RELATED: Why it's unfair to question KD's toughness]

"That side-to-side motion depends on the calf muscle to stabilize the ankle and propel the body in the right direction," Parekh said. "He will not do this effectively."

So, yes, Kevin Durant is back, but what version of him we'll see is something only he can answer in the coming hours.

Why this ESPN analyst thinks Warriors could be 'terrifying' next year

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Why this ESPN analyst thinks Warriors could be 'terrifying' next year

The Warriors will enter the 2019-20 NBA season in unfamiliar territory.

For one, they won't enter the season as title favorites for the first time since lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2015 after significant roster turnover headlined by Kevin Durant's departure in free agency. For another, they will begin the campaign without star guard Klay Thompson in the opening-night lineup for the first time since 2010 as he recovers from a torn ACL. 

But that isn't enough to write off Golden State as an NBA title contender, according to ESPN's Kirk Goldsberry. 

"I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd be all over this bet," Goldsberry wrote in a Friday column, referring to the Warriors opening the season as +1,400 championship favorites according to Caesar's Palace. "Why? Call me crazy, but if Klay Thompson returns to action by March or April, and the Warriors are in the playoffs, they're terrifying."

Placing them in his third tier of championship contenders, Goldsberry noted that the Warriors' experience could give them an edge over other title contenders. He also proposed that sign-and-trade acquisition D'Angelo Russell could "take another leap" under head coach Steve Kerr. Russell, who was an All-Star last season, doesn't have the same defensive upside as Thompson, but gives Golden State another credible scoring threat while one half of the Splash Brothers sits on the sidelines. 

[RELATED: Why Mychal Thompson has MVP expectations for Steph]

That defensive drop-off is what concerns Goldsberry the most, especially with Thompson set to miss so much of the season while Durant and Andre Iguodala are no longer playing in the Bay. The Warriors finished outside of the top 10 in defensive rating in each of the last two seasons despite the presence of all three players on the roster. As NBC Sports Bay Area's Grant Liffmann observed earlier this week, those absences leave the Warriors with a lot of question marks on the defensive end of the court. 

The best-case scenarios for the Warriors next season involve a lot of "ifs." If Russell can effectively fill in for Thompson and if Thompson can return healthy and i the Warriors figure out their defense, then Golden State could be a force in the postseason. The Warriors will have 82 games to figure it all out, but they are still a team few teams would want to face if and when they do. 

Why Mychal Thompson thinks Steph Curry will make 500 3-pointers this year

Why Mychal Thompson thinks Steph Curry will make 500 3-pointers this year

The Warriors' roster turnover this summer has been well-documented, but Mychal Thompson things it will bring out the best in Steph Curry next season.

Curry will have to adjust to life without Kevin Durant next season, after the star signed with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency. The two-time MVP also will miss Klay Thompson -- Mychal's son -- for much of the campaign as the Splash Brother recovers from a torn ACL. Because of that, the elder Thompson thinks Curry has the potential for a record-breaking season in 2019-20.

"Now, they're not going to be as good as they were last year -- and by the way, I predict Steph is going to have 500 3s this year without having to share the ball that much back in the backcourt with Klay," Mychal said Friday on SiriusXM NBA Radio. "So he's going to come back to his MVP form we saw two years ago."

Curry set the NBA's single-season record with 402 made 3-pointers en route to the first unanimous MVP in league history in 2015-16. He did so leading a historic Warriors team that went 73-9, and Klay finished second on Golden State that season with 276 made 3-pointers. 

Klay made 241 -- and attempted 599 -- triples last year, while Curry made 354 and attempted 810. Assuming Thompson returns after the All-Star break, there could be enough touches for Curry to shatter his own record. However, summer acquisition D'Angelo Russell made just seven fewer 3-pointers than Thompson last season. He probably will take fewer shots as the No. 2 option behind Curry to start the season, but Russell's presence probably lowers Curry's record-setting ceiling. 

[RELATED: Steph comments on learning about KD's decision on plane]

Curry unquestionably will have to carry a bigger load for as long as Klay's out next season. But when his son returns, Mychal thinks the Warriors will find themselves on the same level as other Western Conference contenders. 

"[Draymond Green] is motivated to have a great year because his contract year is coming up," the elder Thompson continued.  "So I think [Curry and Green] -- and with the addition of D'Angelo Russell and the other role players that they've signed -- I think they'll be right in the mix. Somewhere between a five [or] six seed until Klay comes back 100 percent, and then they'll be ready to make their move."