The Warriors: Kevin Durant Goes Out Indefinitely
The Golden State Warriors announced on Wednesday that superstar Kevin Durant would be out indefinitely with a Grade 2 MCL injury and tibial bone bruise. He will be assessed again in a month. The team did not provide a timeline for his comeback but indicated that he could return before the regular season ended.
The Nets have gone 2-3 since Durant’s injury, including a loss to the Lakers on Tuesday. Durant averaged 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in 36 games before the injury. By sitting out the All-Star Game, the 6-foot-10 forward intends to complete his MCL rehabilitation and return in time for the Nets’ postseason push.
Durant’s injury couldn’t have occurred at a more inauspicious time for the Warriors. The Warriors are currently 50-10 and have a four-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs (45-13) in the Western Conference playoff race with 22 games.
Kevin Durant is Out!
Durant sustained an injury when teammate Zaza Pachulia collided with Wizards big Marcin Gortat less than a minute into the first quarter. He staggered through two other possessions before departing permanently.
Durant returned to the lineup following his absence from Thursday’s loss to Oklahoma City to rest on the second night of a back-to-back. The Nets were playing their fourth game in five nights. Durant has been forced to play significant minutes in his second season in Brooklyn after missing a year due to Achilles tendon surgery. The 11-time All-Star is having an MVP-caliber season in Brooklyn, averaging a league-leading 29.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists on 52 percent shooting.
Kyrie Irving returned to the Nets on a part-time, road-only basis very recently, owing to New York’s existing COVID-19 immunization mandate. After a difficult start, James Harden has also found his groove, averaging 27.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 10.6 assists per game since Christmas.
Regardless, the competition for the Western Conference’s top seed just became a whole lot more fascinating. The San Antonio Spurs are only 4.0 games behind the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference, with both teams seeking to avoid the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals.
And if Durant’s comeback takes him to the postseason, the Warriors will be exposed. Naturally, a team led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green can defeat any team in the NBA. However, the Warriors, who cruised through the regular season, are now in a more difficult position than they were previously.
The Warriors remain the overwhelming favorite to win the NBA title, at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, with oddsmakers reducing Golden State from minus-220 to minus-200 to win their second title in three years following Durant’s injury announcement.
The Warriors agreed to an agreement with veteran swingman Matt Barnes following Durant’s injury, Barnes confirmed to ESPN. The Sacramento Kings dismissed Barnes on Feb. 20 to make room for the players acquired in the DeMarcus Cousins trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
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