Golden State Warriors fans are panicking as the team trails the Toronto Raptors 3-1 in the NBA Finals, though somewhere inside him, Kevin Durant is probably getting some measure of satisfaction.
Durant has not played since injuring his calf late in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals series against the Houston Rockets. The Warriors won that game after he left, clinched in Game 6, and then swept Portland in the conference finals. Their success led some to say the Warriors were better without him — a totally absurd notion that was based on how the Warriors play a better style of team ball when he’s not on the court. Durant made it clear he was bothered by that narrative.
As Golden State faces the 3-1 deficit, some believe they need Durant to return to have a chance. Atlanta Hawks rookie Trae Young feels that way and said Durant needs to grab his cape to play hero for them.
It’s amazing how quickly that silly narrative was turned on its head. The Warriors’ run without Durant was short-lived until they came up against a team much tougher than Portland. That’s when the world found out how badly they missed the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
The fans stuck around to soak in the atmosphere and joy from the win, with some even being interviewed by NBATV.
Golden State is in their fifth straight NBA Finals and looking to make it three championships in a row, but they’re down 3-1 in the series. Teams in the Finals holding a 3-1 series lead are 33-1 all time, with the one loss being the 2016 Warriors. That means based on history, Toronto is in an excellent spot to upset the Warriors.
Game 5 will be on Monday in Toronto, and you can believe Raptors fans will be out in full force supporting their team. Meanwhile, what may have been the Warriors’ final home game at Oracle Arena was not a good one.
What makes it so perfect? Holzhauer went on a 32-episode winning streak on the game show “Jeopardy,” breaking all sorts of records in the process and generating buzz for the show. Similarly, the Warriors are in their fifth straight NBA Finals and have won three of the past four championships. They have been so good many thought they would roll to their third in a row, but the Toronto Raptors have stepped in and are leading 3-1 in the series, one win away from pulling the upset.
And as good as Holzhauer was, he still lost in his 33rd episode to Emma Boettcher in an episode that aired on June 3.
The point is no matter how good and how unbeatable someone or team appears to be, their run of dominance always comes to an end eventually, and seeing whether they will lose is part of what keeps people watching.
The way he curled his hands makes us think he was doing something closer to the Cassell celebration. Whatever the case, the way he was playing while fighting through an injury was worthy of any kind of celebration he wanted.
Kevin Durant is not playing for the first four games of the NBA Finals, but the Golden State Warriors are hoping he’ll be able to play in Game 5 or 6.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told the media before Game 4 on Friday that Kevon Looney would be able to play but Durant would be out. He said they’re hoping the two-time Finals MVP will be able to play later in the series.
Steve Kerr on Kevin Durant: "We're hoping he can play Game 5 or 6." Won't give any other updated details.
Game 5 of the series is scheduled for Monday and Game 6 will be on Thursday. It’s getting so late in the series that one wonders whether the Warriors will be able to even re-integrate him easily after he returns from his calf injury.
Durant suffered a calf strain during Game 5 of the conference semifinals against the Rockets. The Warriors won that game and the next in Houston to win the series. Then they swept Portland without him.
Entering Friday’s Game 4, the Warriors had lost two of their first three games to the Raptors playing without him.
Looney apparently cannot cause further damage, so playing is a matter of pain tolerance. The big man is going to try and fight through things.
Kerr on Looney: “We’ll give it a shot and we’ll see what he’s got.” Kerr says there is no long term risk for Looney — it’s just about pain tolerance. Kerr does not think Looney will receive a pain-killing injection.
Beyond being a die-hard Toronto Raptors fan, Drake actually has close relationships with many players across the NBA and probably roots for them when they’re not facing his team. Some Golden State Warriors fans want to make sure everyone keeps that in mind during the NBA Finals.
Two fans paid for a billboard near Drake’s hometown in Toronto that features lyrics from his song “The Motto.” In that track, Drake has a line about his love for the Bay Area.
The incident received magnified attention on Thursday. LeBron James posted about it on Instagram. Several players were asked about it during their media availability. The Warriors and Steve Kerr offered thoughts.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he tried to be fair in his handling of the matter and took into account how contrite Stevens was.
“There’s not some rulebook I can look to here for what precisely to do. I try to balance all the different factors and once again, I think this was a fair outcome and I will say we did take into account how contrite Mr. Stevens was.”
The NBA and Golden State Warriors have already banned Mark Stevens indefinitely for his actions towards Kyle Lowry but may have a harsher punishment in mind.
NBC News reporter Dylan Byers reported on Thursday that Stevens will likely be forced to sell his ownership shares in the Warriors prior to next season as punishment.
Multiple sources close to the Golden State Warriors tell me Mark Stevens, the minority owner who pushed Kyle Lowry, will likely be forced to sell his shares before the start of next season … #NBAFinals#KyleLowry
The incident and fact that the fan in question turned out to be a minority owner of the team has become the biggest talking point the day after the game. The league and team have taken action in support of Lowry, with everyone calling Stevens’ actions unacceptable.
The NBA has been serious about protecting players and taking measures to let fans know their conduct cannot cross a line with their behavior at games the way Stevens did. They also have forced an owner to sell in the past for unbecoming conduct, so there is precedent to force someone like Stevens to sell his shares for being a poor representative of the league.