Warriors

Warriors' Kevin Durant will not play in NBA Finals Game 2 vs. Raptors

Warriors' Kevin Durant will not play in NBA Finals Game 2 vs. Raptors

Once again, the expected has become a reality.

Kevin Durant (right calf strain) hasn't played since Game 5 of the Warriors' second-round NBA playoff series with the Rockets and missed the Dubs' Game 1 loss to the Raptors in the NBA Finals.

While KD did travel with the team to Toronto, it was always unlikely he would play in Game 2.

On Friday, head coach Steve Kerr confirmed Durant would not play Sunday in Game 2. 

"The thinking is when he can play, he'll play," Kerr told reporters in Toronto on Friday. "It's not like, you know, this is a sore ankle or his knee is sore or whatever and he can play through it. This is a tricky one. If you reinjure the calf then that's it, he's done for the series."

The Warriors desperately missed Durant's offensive game in Thursday's 118-109 loss to the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

While Durant reportedly could return midway through the series, his injury is so severe that he "would be weeks away" from coming back if it had occurred during the regular season. 

Kerr told the media that Durant traveled to Toronto be close to the team and medical staff, not because he is close to playing. 

The Warriors didn't miss a beat during the Western Conference finals without Durant, but the Raptors pose a much bigger challenge.

Their athletic defense bothered the Warriors throughout Game 1. While Steph Curry dropped 34 in the loss, Golden State's other players struggled greatly, and the Dubs clearly missed having the ability to throw the ball to Durant and have him get them a bucket when everything breaks down.

[RELATED: Warriors reportedly worried about NBA Finals chances without KD]

The Warriors will need to buckle down in Sunday's Game 2 or else they risk heading back to Oakland in a two-games-to-none series hole that will be hard to climb out of with or without Durant.

Omri Casspi bothered by people writing 'my Warriors' off next season

Omri Casspi bothered by people writing 'my Warriors' off next season

There are plenty of people in the basketball world -- media members, TV personalities, fans, etc. -- who don't believe the Warriors will be championship contenders next season.

And this doesn't sit well with former Warriors forward Omri Casspi.

"One of the things that bothers me about next year is that a lot of people are writing off my Warriors," Casspi said to Golden State coach Steve Kerr on his most recent podcast. "It bothers me. A team being coached by Steve Kerr -- (with) Steph Curry and Klay (Thompson) coming back, Draymond (Green), you just added Andrew Wiggins and hopefully a top-five pick.

"You guys have a good team. No pressure, no added pressure (smiling) -- it's not gonna make any headlines. But you guys are so good. I got you guys. I'm so excited."

First of all, sorry Mr. Casspi but your comment did make headlines!

Secondly, a fully healthy core of Steph, Klay and Draymond should put the Warriors in a great position to compete in the Western Conference. But it's way too early to project anything, as we need to see how the front office fills out the roster this offseason.

Third, it's fascinating to hear Casspi say "my Warriors" when you consider the fact he played with the Dubs for one season, and the Warriors waived him before the 2018 playoffs began to make room for Quinn Cook (remember, Steph Curry missed the first round of the playoffs because of a sprained knee).

"I remember being cut from the Warriors. I was at the top of the world and I'm being honest -- it was the dream of my life playing for the Warriors and competing for an NBA championship," Casspi said to Kerr. "You know, things happen. You get hurt and the team has to go in a different direction."

Although the Israeli native's time with Golden State ended in a very disappointing fashion, he still has the utmost respect for Kerr and the franchise.

"In my heart, I'm still part of the team in some capacity," Casspi said. "Coach, you've been a true inspiration to me -- on and off the court. I learned so much from you.

"I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity playing for you, (and) our friendship ... love you."

It doesn't get much better than that.

[RELATED: Ex-Warrior Casspi tells incredible story of Kerr's empathy]

Lastly, we gotta include two videos for the sake of nostalgia:

Casspi played in Israel during the 2019-20 season, and it's unclear if he wants to try to return to the NBA in the future.

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

How Steve Kerr's time with 'Last Dance' Bulls helped him with Warriors

How Steve Kerr's time with 'Last Dance' Bulls helped him with Warriors

Steve Kerr is spending the offseason, the long, extended offseason, re-evaluating the Warriors' program.

After five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the Warriors sunk to the bottom of the NBA with Steph Curry playing only five games and Klay Thompson missing the entire season. But both stars will be healthy and rested next season when the Warriors hope to begin another dynastic run. The gap year has allowed Kerr to take a step back and plan for the future.

As a member of the "The Last Dance" Chicago Bulls, Kerr didn't have the ability to sit back and take the 1000-foot view of the Bulls' accomplishments before starting the next phase. It just ended. But he does believe his time with that team helped him navigate the perils the Warriors have faced.

“There’s a reason it was called ‘The Last Dance’ before the season, and not after,” Kerr told The Athletic's David Aldridge on the "Hoops, Adjacent" podcast. “… And, to be honest -- and I think Phil (Jackson) said this in the documentary -- it felt over. In retrospect, it’s easy to look back and say, ‘Man, why didn’t they keep it going?’ But at the time, it felt like everybody was exhausted, and the team had already, management had already decided what they were going to do. So we didn’t spend any time looking forward to what might have been. I think everybody just kind of went their separate ways.

“But I think that experience really did help me, coaching our own group in Golden State over the last few years. ‘Cause I was really able to think about the fatigue, the emotional and the spiritual fatigue, that sets in when you’re trying to do something year after year like we did in Chicago, and again in Golden State. So that experience really came in handy for me as a coach.”

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

By the time the 2018-19 season rolled around, it was clear the Warriors were running slow, the exhaustion of four straight Finals trips weighing heavy on their minds and bodies. The constant questions surrounding the future of Kevin Durant only exacerbated the exhaustion.

In the moment, it felt like that was the final hurrah for that group, win or lose. There's no doubt a healthy Warriors team likely would have completed the threepeat. But Steph Curry and Draymond Green, the two stars left standing in final moments of that iteration of the dynasty, emptied the tank as champions do, throwing everything they had at the Toronto Raptors to force a decisive Game 7. But it wasn't to be.

[RELATED: Steph, Kerr's greatness proved Lacob's 'light years' quip true]

The Last Dance Bulls ended as champions, with Michael Jordan's game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals being the lasting memory of that run. They finished as champions, but ones who never got to defend their title.

The Curry-Durant Warriors were defeated not by management hubris, petty differences or cheap ownership, but by injuries and exhaustion. While Jordan and the Bulls are left to wonder if a seventh title could have been theirs, the Warriors were left with no haunting what-ifs. They achieved everything they set out to accomplish, and only the weight on continued excellence, injuries and exhaustion toppled their dynasty.

Kerr, Curry, Thompson and Green now get the chance to reinvent themselves again, and start a new dynasty in the remaining years of their prime.

Kerr and the Warriors have been able to soak in and fully appreciate the greatness of their run during the down year. Now, the work begins again for the Warriors' championship core.