If the Golden State Warriors want to take a 2-0 lead in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, they might have to do so without their best player. Kevin Durant is questionable for Wednesday night’s Game 2 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
A left calf strain forced Durant to miss Tuesday’s practice, and it could force him to sit in the team’s upcoming game. Durant has played in four games since returning from a knee injury that caused him to miss a month’s worth of action.
Durant was Golden State’s leading scorer in their 121-109 Game 1 victory. He scored 32 points on 20 shots, adding 10 rebounds, two assists and a block.
With Durant’s status up in the air, the Warriors aren’t as big of a favorite as they once were. The betting line has moved from 15 points to 13.5 points, via OddsShark. The over/under is down to 220.
Shaun Livingston is questionable for Game 2, as well. He is dealing with a right index finger sprain and a hand contusion after scoring just two points in 15 minutes in Game 1.
With nine hours until tipoff between Warriors-Blazers, I'm told Kevin Durant's 'questionable' status (calf) is probably closer to doubtful.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 19, 2017
The Warriors have become accustomed to playing without their top player in big games ever since last year. Coming off one of the greatest individual regular seasons in NBA history, Stephen Curry suffered multiple injuries in last year’s postseason and missed six games. The Warriors went 4-2 in his absence.
Golden State struggled mightily when Durant went down at the end of February, but they quickly rebounded. The Warriors won the last 13 games that Durant missed, and the forward’s absence might not make much of a difference in Game 2.
If Durant is plagued by injuries in a series against the San Antonio Spurs or Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors could be in a lot of trouble. Portland, however, barely squeaked into the playoffs with a .500 record, and they’ll be lucky to win a game this series.
Portland couldn’t have asked for more from their two best players in Game 1. Damian Lillard scored 34 points on 26 shots, and C.J. McCollum put up 41 points on 16-of-28 shooting. It still wasn’t enough to keep the Blazers within single digits when the final buzzer sounded.
The Warriors have their eyes on winning the 2017 NBA Finals, and holding Durant out might be the smart move, even if he’s healthy enough to take the court. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be able to carry the load on offense with the All-Star forward on the bench.
With Durant on the mend in March, Curry averaged 25.5 points, 7.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field. Thompson averaged 23.5 points on 47.9 percent shooting, and he made 43.1 percent of his three-pointers.
A few nights after Lillard and McCollum put on a show at Oracle Arena, the Splash Brothers should remind everyone that they are the best backcourt in the league.
Game 2 is scheduled to start at 10:30 p.m. EDT. TNT will have the TV coverage, and a free live stream will be available online at tntdrama.com.
Prediction: Golden State over Portland, 125-105