Warriors

Warriors

If you look at the numbers, it might not seem like the Warriors miss Kevin Durant all that much.

Since March 2017, Golden State is 31-1 when Durant doesn't play but Steph Curry does. 

That success without Durant has extended to this playoff run, as the Warriors have won five straight games since the two-time NBA Finals MVP left Game 5 of their second-round series against the Rockets with a calf strain. 

A lot of the Warriors' success without KD can be attributed to the improved play of Draymond Green. The three-time All-Star took his play to another level in the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, playing a more integral role in the offense during the four-game sweep. 

With Durant on the sidelines for the early part of the Warriors' NBA Finals matchup with the Toronto Raptors, Green knows he must play a different role for the Dubs to succeed.

"It completely changes," Green told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "I have to be more of a scoring threat when Kevin's not out there. I have to -- I really try to push the pace more when he's not out there. When Kevin's out there, we all have the luxury of just saying, 'OK, that set didn't work, we still got this guy to just throw a ball into it and get out of the way.' That luxury isn't there anymore, and also I think with Kevin being out, we're trying to make up 37 points again.

 

"We're not going to make those 37 points again up just by walking the ball up the floor and thinking we're going to have the same trust running the set as if Kevin is on the floor," Green said. "So how do you make up those points? Get extra possessions, get the pace to where you want it to be, get some easy buckets. That's how you make it up."

The Warriors have been playing a different brand of basketball since Durant went out, causing many pundits and commentators to postulate that the Warriors are better and happier when Durant is not on the floor with them.

If you ask Green, that's not the case.

"I wouldn't necessarily say more fun, but it's just like anything in life," Green said. "If you go into something with a little more uncertainty, when you come out of it, it feels a little better. Because you got over the doubt. Whatever doubt it was that you was facing, you got over that. When Kevin's with us, I walk into the arena and I know how this game is gonna go. I know we're gonna win and whatever else you wanna add in to that, I know already. When he's not, I'm still extremely confident that we're gonna win, I'm still extremely confident that we're the best team walking in. But you gotta figure a little more out in order to win as opposed to when he out there. And so I think it gives you a little more joy initially when you finish that game.

"So you may have seen us over the course of the last few weeks celebrate the Houston series in the second round a little bit more than we would normally celebrate a second-round series win. You may have seen us celebrate sweeping Portland a little bit more than we would normally celebrate sweeping someone, because it's a different feeling. You go into those games, and it's like, 'Yeah, we're very confident that we're gonna win,' but it's not as certain as it is when Kevin is with us."

Durant is officially out for Game 1 of the NBA Finals and is unlikely to play in Game 2.

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Without KD, the Warriors will need Green to continue to his renaissance if they plan to put away the Raptors and complete their quest to three-peat.