OAKLAND -- Listening to knowledgeable parties around the NBA and looking at the faces of the Warriors after their 114-111 Game 2 win over the Trail Blazers, it’s apparent that this is how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future.
Whatever the Warriors do this weekend and beyond against Portland in the Western Conference finals will be in the absence of Kevin Durant.
When the Warriors leave their facility Friday afternoon for a flight to Portland, Durant will stay behind in the Bay Area to continue treatment on the right calf he strained on May 8.
He’ll still be in recovery when the team returns next week, after Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals in the Pacific Northwest. The same for Game 5, which is scheduled for next Wednesday, if necessary.
“We’ve ruled him out until next Thursday, so that leaves Games 6 and 7,” general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area. “At this point, we just wait and see then.
“But you have to first get there and see where we’re at. We get to see him (get treatment) every day -- I know you guys don’t -- so we will know before that day if it’s realistic or not.”
It is safe to presume Durant’s return in this series, even if it goes seven games, is unrealistic. Not impossible, mind you, but so highly unlikely that his coaches and teammates have to assume he’ll be of no more help on the floor than assistant coach Chris DeMarco.
It’s up to the classic core -- Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson -- to drive the Warriors through this series and, should they succeed, into the next.
“We can't sit and look over our shoulder and say, ‘Hey, man, when is K going to be back?’ ” Green said. “We just got to play with whatever we got. We got to play and give him an opportunity to get back, and I think that's what really falls on our shoulders.”
Green, aside from five turnovers, was magnificent in Game 2, contributing 16 points, a game-high 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks -- four in the first quarter. Curry furnished a game-high 37 points, Thompson was terrific while scoring 13 of his 24 points in the pivotal third quarter.
They got help. Kevon Looney, continuing his stellar postseason, scored 14 points (6-of-6 shooting from the field) and snagged seven rebounds. Jordan Bell had 11 points, three rebounds and two steals. And Andre Iguodala made the game-saving defensive play.
It’s going to have to be group effort. Durant, the team’s ultimate bailout option that was having a spectacular postseason, is not available and there is no timetable for his return.
“We're confident we can win, but we would much rather have him playing,” Curry said. “So, we're going to hold the fort down till he gets back and then go win another championship with our full squad.”
The Warriors won Game 1 on Tuesday because they played a Portland team reeling from exhaustion, and they won Game 2 -- after falling behind by as much 17 early in the third quarter -- by summoning the piranha-like defense that so often swings a game in their favor.
Trailing 69-53 with 9:34 remaining in the third, the Warriors turned angry and needed a little more than two minutes to fashion a 13-0 run, bringing the score to 69-66 with 7:11 left in the quarter. They got back into the game by forcing three misses and two turnovers.
After a sloppy first half in which they gave the Blazers 18 points off 10 turnovers and allowed them to shoot 48.9 percent from the field, the Warriors found themselves in the second half, holding Portland to 46 points on 38.5-percent shooting.
That defense, led by Green, is going to have to be their passage to the next round.
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“We feel like we can still win games no matter who is out there on the floor,” Curry said. “That's why we're in the position that we are and have won championships with all the injuries we had and all that type of stuff. We know what the mission is, and we're on it right now.”
The Warriors feel they have developed and come close to perfecting a blueprint for success. If they follow the leaders and play defense, that may be enough. If they do those things and take care of the ball, it will be enough.
Enough to get them to the NBA Finals, at least.
“We’ve had a lot of success,” Myers said. “But they’ve been through a lot of the spotlight and dealing with the questions and uncertainties. They’re pretty good at it.”
We’re about to see, in Games 3 and 4, how good.