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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Articles tagged: NBA playoffs 2019

Warriors were irresponsible in their handling of Kevin Durant’s injury, return

Kevin Durant injury

Kevin Durant going down with an Achilles’ tendon injury during Game 5 of the NBA Finals was an absolute worst outcome nobody wanted to see. The guy was trying to grit through an injury and lead his team to a championship, was playing well, but went down early in the second quarter with an injury. Golden State Warriors President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers said after the game that Durant had been medically cleared to play and nobody was to blame for the unfortunate outcome. Regardless of what he says, the Warriors were still irresponsible in their handling of Durant’s injury and return.

First, let me get this out of the way: the decision to allow Durant to play in Game 5 was not necessarily irresponsible. Without knowing more information about who did or didn’t want him to play, if Durant wanted to play and was refusing to be told no, he has the power to override any medical recommendation.

Where the Warriors erred was with the way they handled Durant’s return.

They gave him no minutes restriction and made him the focal point of the offense, asking him to do everything as if he had never missed a game. That was entirely too much for a guy playing his first game in over a month, with limited practice time, who had just suffered a setback 3-4 days earlier. When DeMarcus Cousins returned from his quad injury, he was eased into action and had a minutes limit. That is typical for a player returning from a lower body injury to avoid aggravating it.

Also consider that Durant tried to work out and play in Game 4 on Friday night but was not able to do it, which was described by Brian Windhorst as a setback. ESPN’s Jalen Rose also said before Game 4 that Durant’s workout the day before did not go well. He said he felt like Durant might not return for the series.

“I’m really familiar with the setup, workout that KD had yesterday with the team,” Rose said, “and I’m going to tell you guys, it didn’t go well on any level. It did not go well on any level. I’m just going to keep it at that.”

“I went from being a guy that thinks that he may come back later in the series,” Rose added. “Now I feel like he might not come back at all.”

Allowing Durant to play in Game 5 when the team is down 3-1 is one thing. Putting no minutes restriction on him and giving him a huge role in the offense like he hadn’t just had a bad workout before the previous game is madness. That’s fantasy land nonsense. That’s wishing and hoping that all is normal when it really isn’t. That’s irresponsible handling of a player that never made sense, likely the result of desperation due to being down 3-1.

On top of the way they handled Durant’s return, the way the team handled updates surrounding his injury made matters worse.

The Warriors were not giving clear updates on Durant’s status, which allowed uncertainty over the matter to linger and become more and more of a daily question. Early on, they had been giving weekly updates on his status, but that stopped after May 23.

The Warriors’ last official medical update about his status came on May 23, in which they said he would not be ready for the beginning of the Finals but were hopeful he would be ready later in the series.

They previously had updated a week before on May 17, at which point they said he had not been cleared for on-court work.

They also issued an announcement on May 9, the day after Durant suffered the injury. They announced an MRI had confirmed their diagnosis of a strained calf.

It wasn’t until May 16 that Steve Kerr admitted publicly Durant’s injury was worse than they initially thought.

The Warriors were downplaying the severity of the injury from the start. Their feelings and timelines about his status never seemed to match the visual evidence of how bad the injury looked when he suffered it against the Rockets. The only player who looked that bad and returned quickly from an injury was Paul Pierce, and it turns out he was faking it. Maybe the lack of updates ahead of and during the NBA Finals was gamesmanship to cause preparation problems for the Raptors. But by not issuing further updates about his status after May 23, they put pressure on him to return.

Don’t believe me? How about team owner Joe Lacob saying on May 21 that Durant would return for the Finals. You think the owner making that pronouncement did Durant any favors regarding his status? You think that didn’t set expectations from fans that Durant would return and put unneeded pressure on the star? That was an irresponsible comment by Lacob to make.

The Warriors have developed a reputation over the last few years for being incredibly patient and cautious with handling their players and their injuries. They let Steph Curry and Draymond Green miss time to heal from their injuries this season and did not want to rush either back. They forced Klay Thompson to sit out Game 3 of the Finals with his hamstring strain.

But you know what the difference is between those situations and where Durant found himself? The Warriors knew they could always be patient with their players in the regular season and postseason to an extent because they had a stacked roster and could survive injuries. They were able to sweep Portland without Durant. They were only 1-1 in the series when they had Thompson miss a game. They weren’t trailing, on the brink of elimination, down 3-1, and realizing they needed Durant in order to win the series otherwise their season would end.

For the first time in the last three years, the Warriors were desperate, and that desperation led them to not exercise their best judgment.

Raptors fans in Jurassic Park cheered, waved bye when Kevin Durant got hurt

Kevin Durant injury

Toronto Raptors fans who were inside Scotiabank Arena for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night have been criticized for the way they reacted to Kevin Durant suffering another injury, and the fans viewing the game from outside deserve just as much scrutiny.

Jurassic Park, the fan viewing area outside Scotiabank Arena, has gained popularity throughout the postseason for the passion Raptors fans have shown in supporting their team. However, several of them crossed the line when they cheered and waived goodbye as Durant hobbled off the court.

Even some Raptors players scolded fans who were cheering when Durant went down, so they probably won’t think much of the reaction from Jurassic Park, either. Durant being out probably gives Toronto a better chance to win, but openly rooting for injuries is pretty low.

If you’re going to stand in line for an entire day just to get into Jurassic Park, don’t make it so you can root for star players on the other team to get hurt.

Drake sends heartfelt message to Kevin Durant on Instagram

A number of Toronto Raptors fans may have had classless reactions to Kevin Durant suffering a potentially serious Achilles injury during Game 5 on Monday night, but Drake was not one of them. In fact, the rapper went out of his way to let people know how concerned he is about the Golden State Warriors star.

After the Warriors came back to beat the Raptors and keep their championship hopes alive, Drake said in an Instagram post that his “only concern” is Durant’s health.

“Was tough for any of us to even enjoy that game tonight after seeing this transpire. Praying for our brother. That’s my only concern tonight is your well being. ‘The game needs me’ is an understatement when it comes to 35. Please wish the best for this true warrior,” Drake wrote.

Drake also showed Durant some love as he was helped off the court.

Raptors fans were scolded by their own players over their reaction to Durant’s injury, and Drake is the most recognizable of all of them. While you might think his actions and words were disingenuous, keep in mind that he is close with several Warriors players and had to cover up some of his tattoos before the NBA Finals because of that. That dynamic has likely made the series even more enjoyable for Drake, so it’s no surprise he’s disappointed Durant is not going to be a part of it going forward.

Kevin Durant’s mother Wanda calls out critics following injury

Kevin Durant mom Wanda

Kevin Durant did all he could to help the Golden State Warriors get back in their series against the Toronto Raptors before he suffered an apparent Achilles injury on Monday night, and his mother hopes that will be a lesson to those who have questioned Durant’s passion.

On Tuesday morning, Wanda Durant took to Twitter to blast Durant’s critics in the wake of the latest injury.

Durant has a very close relationship with his mother, and she has always been one of his most outspoken supporters.

The Warriors reportedly fear that Durant suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Game 5. They will now have to answer questions about whether or not they cleared Durant to return too early, and some comments Steve Kerr made before and after Golden State’s comeback win are not the best look for the team.

Steve Kerr says he was told Kevin Durant could only ‘tweak’ injury

Steve Kerr

Kevin Durant suffered what is feared to be a torn Achilles tendon during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, which has naturally led to questions about whether he was cleared to play prematurely. Based on what Steve Kerr said before and after the game, it sounds like that is a possibility.

Prior to tip-off, ESPN’s Doris Burke reported that Kerr told her the team has no long-term concerns for Durant or fears of an Achilles injury. He only said Durant could possibly “tweak” the calf injury.

Kerr then seemed to be in disbelief following Golden State’s comeback win over the Toronto Raptors. According to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, the coach kept saying over and over again that doctors said Durant wouldn’t injure himself further.

You really can’t jump to conclusions without knowing all of the details. It could be that Durant was told of the risks and insisted on playing, though Kerr’s remarks indicated that was not the case. General manager Bob Myers said he would accept the blame for Durant’s injury during a very emotional postgame press conference.

Warriors reportedly believe Kevin Durant has torn Achilles’ tendon

Kevin Durant injury

The Golden State Warriors believe that Kevin Durant has a torn Achilles’ tendon, according to a report.

Durant left Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night in the second quarter after suffering a non-contact injury. He had to be helped off the floor and left Scotiabank Arena on crutches and in a walking boot.

Durant will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, which the Warriors expect to confirm a tear, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Warriors president Bob Myers confirmed after the game that the injury was to Durant’s Achilles and different from the calf strain he suffered against the Rockets in the conference semifinals.

The widespread belief was that Durant had torn his Achilles. Raptors coach Nick Nurse said in his postgame press conference that word spread within their team that Durant had torn something. Video also seemed to show the Achilles popping.

A torn Achilles’ tendon would keep Durant out for most of next season. Regardless of what the MRI shows, Durant is out for the rest of the Finals.

Nick Nurse crushed for taking timeout to stop Raptors’ run

Nick Nurse

Nick Nurse is being crushed for calling an oddly-timed timeout at the end of Game 5 that seemed to kill the Toronto Raptors’ momentum against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

The Raptors were leading 103-97 after Kawhi Leonard had scored 10 straight points to give them the lead. Leonard had made four straight shots, the Warriors had missed two in a row, and the Raptors had all the momentum but decided to halt their run by calling a timeout with 3:05 left. It was bizarre considering the team that’s seeing the game slip away usually calls the timeout, not the other way around.

After the timeout, the Warriors outscored the Raptors 9-2 to win the game 106-105.

Numerous media members expressed surprise over the timeout call by Nurse.

The Raptors coach shared his reasoning in his postgame press conference. He said they lose the timeouts after the 3-minute mark, so he figured he would use both before they were gone to give his players extra rest.

The move backfired as Golden State came out hot afterwards.

The Warriors have now forced a Game 6 of the series, which will be on Thursday in Oakland.