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


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.

Steph Curry believes Sabrina Ionescu has basketball 'in great hands'

Steph Curry believes Sabrina Ionescu has basketball 'in great hands'

Two Bay Area legends were in attendance Friday night at Haas Pavilion when the University of Oregon women's basketball team played Cal. One was on the floor, and one was in the seats. 

Warriors star Steph Curry brought his two daughters, Riley and Ryan, to watch Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu. The Walnut Creek native recorded her 25th career triple-double as the Ducks downed the Bears, 93-61.

On Saturday, Curry paid his respects to Ionescu, who is a huge fan of the two-time NBA MVP.

"The game is in great hands," Steph wrote on Instagram, with a picture of him and Ionescu after the game.

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The game is in great hands 💪🏽

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Ionescu dropped 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in what was her seventh triple-double of her senior season. She is nine rebounds away from becoming college basketball’s first 2,000-point, 1,000-rebound, 1,000-assist player.

"The competitive nature that she has, you can't teach that," Curry told Pac-12 Network's Kate Scott. "She could be blessed with all the talent in the world, but if she didn't have that, she wouldn't be who she was."

Ionescu, who starred at Miramonte High School in Orinda before going to Oregon, is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. She is averaging 17.1 points, 8.8 assists and 8.7 rebounds per game for the Ducks.

[RELATED: Curry says March 1 has 'always been' intended return]

While she's dominating on the floor, Ionescu certainly is excited for Curry's return to the court. Steph participated in his first live scrimmage at Warriors practice Saturday, after breaking his hand in the fourth game of the season, and he's eyeing a March 1 return to Golden State's lineup.

Basketball is in better hands when the two Bay Area legends are healthy and putting on a show in their sport. 

Watch Anthony Edwards, top NBA draft prospect, throw down poster dunk

Watch Anthony Edwards, top NBA draft prospect, throw down poster dunk

Anthony Edwards can get up and throw it down.

The Georgia shooting guard proved that Saturday, when he put Vanderbilt freshman Braelee Albert on an eye-popping poster with this ferocious slam.

Edwards scored 19 points to go along with his rim-rattling dunk, in an 80-78 comeback win over the Commodores. Georgia improved to 14-13 on the season with the victory, which came on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

Edwards, a freshman, again showed why he could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He shot 7 of 16 from the field and also grabbed five rebounds. 

What really stood out, though, was Edwards' athleticism and vision on this play. 

Edwards, who doesn't turn 19 until August, has been questioned about his shot selection, but he's carrying the load on a Georgia team that isn't exactly full of NBA talent. It's just another reason why he could be an intriguing option for the Warriors in the June draft.

The majority of mock drafts currently have Golden State selecting Edwards with a top pick. He isn't a positional fit like Memphis center James Wiseman would be, but Edwards' athleticism and upside could be an instant boost. 

[RELATED: Should Warriors keep Wiggins if they win NBA Draft Lottery?]

Entering Saturday, Edwards was averaging 18.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. That's nearly what he dropped Saturday, as the 6-foot-5, 225-pound guard put his skills on display.

The Warriors surely have their eyes on every top draft prospect right now. Edwards' performance in a win over Vandy could vault him up their draft board, too.