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NBA rumors: Kevin Durant expected to rejoin Warriors during NBA Finals

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NBA rumors: Kevin Durant expected to rejoin Warriors during NBA Finals

Kevin Durant hasn't played for three weeks because of a calf injury, leading some to speculate whether or not he's actually out for the season.

That reportedly isn't the case, and it's great news for the Warriors, who are in unfamiliar territory after dropping Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night by virtue of a 118-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Durant is expected to rejoin the team midway through the NBA Finals, Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Friday, citing sources. Haynes wrote "there's some optimism" in the organization that Durant could be back for Game 3 on Wednesday in Oakland, but Game 4 on Friday is "the most logical option."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday that Durant had been cleared to resume individual on-court basketball activities, but Haynes reported the star forward already started his workouts earlier in the week.

Prior to his injury. Durant had been dominant in the playoffs, averaging 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 11 games, before straining his right calf during Game 5 of the Warriors' NBA playoff second-round series against the Houston Rockets.

The Warriors didn't miss a beat during the first five games without Durant in the lineup. Steph Curry's second-half explosion in Game 6 against the Rockets eliminated James Harden and Co., and the Portland Trail Blazers provided little resistance in the Western Conference finals.

But, as the Raptors proved Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena, they are an entirely different animal.

Toronto's lengthy defense swarmed Steph Curry and Klay Thompson from the opening tip, forcing the Warriors' duo inside the arc and refusing to give them open looks from any distance. Durant's absence leaves Golden State without the safety valve the team has enjoyed for the past three seasons. When things start to break down offensively for the Warriors, they could always throw the ball to Durant on the wing and let him get them a bucket to calm things down. 

With the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP in street clothes, the Dubs, who got little out of Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green in Game 1, were forced to rely on their collection of role players to take big shots down the stretch in Game 1.  While Curry (34 points) and Thompson (21) were still able to get theirs, Green (10) was the only other Warrior to score in double figures. If that continues Sunday night in Game 2, the Warriors will be in a world of trouble.

[RELATED: Why Warriors must recognized Raptors as toughest NBA Finals foe]

The championship-tested Warriors remain confident despite their Game 1 loss. If Durant returns and plays at the same level he was at prior to his injury, then there's no reason for the two-time defending champions to be worried.

If Durant is less than 100 percent, though, things could get dicey.

After playing a below-average Cleveland Cavaliers team during the last two Finals, the Warriors will finally be tested by Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors. And despite all the pre-Game 1 talking points, Golden State needs KD.

Kevin Durant gets Finals revenge on Drake in 'Laugh Now, Cry Later' video

Kevin Durant gets Finals revenge on Drake in 'Laugh Now, Cry Later' video

Any Warriors fans who wanted to dunk on Drake before, during or after last year's NBA Finals can now live vicariously through Kevin Durant.

The Toronto Raptors global ambassador and rapper dropped the music video for "Laugh Now Cry Later" featuring Lil Durk on Thursday, with Drake spending most of it on Nike's Beaverton, Ore. campus. Former Raiders star Marshawn Lynch steals the show by tackling Drake in a brief appearance, but Durant absolutely dominates the Canadian star in a 1-on-1 game.

https://youtu.be/JFm7YDVlqnI

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Durant hasn't played in an NBA game since rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against Drake's Raptors, and his rehab is, at the very least, far enough along to best someone who once air-balled a 3-pointer warming up with Kentucky. By my count, Durant was 5-of-5 from the field with a steal, a block and two dunks over Drake.

Yes, I counted stats from a fake 1-on-1 game in a music video. What did you do with your Thursday night?

Drake traded barbs with Durant and the Warriors when Toronto and Golden State squared off in last year's Finals. There was Drake's "Home Alone" hoodie worn before Game 2, followed by Klay Thompson dropping a "See you in the Bay, Aubrey" after the Warriors' win that night. Then Drake trolled Thompson, and later Draymond Green, but it was all good-natured. Green and Drake met up between Games 1 and 2, while Steph Curry even gave the rapper a congratulatory call after the Raptors won their first NBA title.

[RELATED: Draymond wants you to know he liked Trent Jr. before you did]

Durant's no longer a Warrior, of course, with Game 5 marking his last appearance in a Golden State uniform before he joined the Brooklyn Nets in free agency. Drake said he was "wrecked" seeing Durant get hurt, and he even referenced the NBA star's eventual road back to the court in a verse on Rick Ross' "Gold Roses" last summer. It's fitting, then, that we'd get one of our first glimpses at Durant back on the court in a Drake video.

That it plays out like a fever-dream revenge fantasy written by one of their own has to be a cathartic, added bonus for Warriors fans.

Draymond Green has been on Gary Trent Jr. bandwagon longer than you

Draymond Green has been on Gary Trent Jr. bandwagon longer than you

Warriors star Draymond Green wants you to know he was on the Gary Trent Jr. bandwagon before he became one of the restarted NBA season's breakout stars.

The Portland Trail Blazers guard entered Thursday shooting an impressive 52.6 percent from the field and an unconscious 52.6 percent from 3-point range. He didn't hit those heights in the Blazers' 134-133 win over the Brooklyn Nets, but they never trailed again after Trent Jr.'s fourth 3-pointer of the night gave them a 130-128 lead with 2:29 to go in regulation.

Porland's win locked up its spot in the play-in game(s) for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot, and Green loved what he saw from Trent Jr. down the stretch.

Green has been a fan of Trent Jr. for (at least) a few months.

Back on March 6, Green tweeted his appreciation for the guard on the night Trent Jr. flashed his defensive chops guarding Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker.

[RELATED: Haberstroh believes Wiggins' game 'will rise' if not traded]

Green's praise of Trent Jr. should cost a whole lot less than the $50,000 tampering fine he laughed off stemming from praising Booker on an "Inside the NBA" appearance. That praise also involved a plea to "get my man out of Phoenix," of course, and the NBA didn't take too kindly to Green's suggestion.

Some good, old-fashioned Twitter tire-pumping won't make Green's pockets lighter, and it has the added bonus of bolstering his basketball hipster credentials by saying he was on the Trent Jr. train before everyone else.

Really, it's a win-win for everyone involved.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]