Warriors

Warriors

Let's dispense with the semantics -- the Warriors are not better without Kevin Durant.

They never have been, but it was obvious during Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, a 118-109 Toronto Raptors win, that Golden State needs Durant.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP has been out for nearly three weeks with a strained right calf that he suffered during the third quarter of Game 5 of the Warriors' second-round NBA playoff series against the Houston Rockets. 

While it's unlikely that Durant comes back for Sunday's Game 2 at Scotiabank Arena, the superstar forward reportedly could return in either Game 3 or Game 4 at Oracle Arena.

Durant's potential return is good news for a Warriors team that struggled to score against the Raptors' lengthy, athletic defense in Game 1. However, Durant's injured calf isn't the type of ailment that heals quickly, and he reportedly would be out for much longer if the title wasn't on the line.

via ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:

If this were the regular season, one Warriors source said, Durant would probably be weeks away from returning to action, as this type of calf injury can easily be reinjured.

Durant just recently resumed on-court work and has yet to practice with the team, so it seems clear this is a serious injury that KD is going to try and push through.

 

Prior to Golden State's Game 1 loss -- their first Game 1 Finals defeat under head coach Steve Kerr -- it seemed like more than a possibility that Durant might not return at all. The injury appears to be severe enough to have Durant sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs, but he knows he's needed if the Warriors are going to complete their quest to three-peat.

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Durant might return at only 70 or 80 percent, but the Warriors need him out there if he can play.

That was evident in Game 1.