The Warriors won’t have Kevin Durant back in their lineup to start the NBA Finals, but another injured star appears set to return. Head coach Steve Kerr confirmed today to reporters, including Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group (Twitter link), that DeMarcus Cousins will be active for Game 1.
Cousins, who missed more than half of the 2018/19 season while recovering from an Achilles tear, suffered a torn quad in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs against the Clippers. While that injury seemed likely to finish his season, he worked hard to rehab the quad and get healthy enough to return to the court before the end of the playoffs.
When Cousins signed a one-year, $5.34MM deal with the Warriors last summer, this was the sort of opportunity he anticipated. Having never appeared in a playoff game before, the 28-year-old wanted a chance to compete for a title, and he’ll get that chance beginning on Thursday night.
It’s not clear what sort of role Cousins will play against the Raptors. According to Medina (via Twitter), Kerr said he has a sense of the workload the big man will get in Game 1, but declined to offer specifics.
Technically, the Warriors were a better team with Cousins off the court than with him on it during the regular season and during his brief playoff stint. Plus, his presence would reduce the likelihood of Golden State playing Raptors center Marc Gasol off the floor. Those factors, combined with Cousins still needing to get his conditioning back to where it was, point to a limited role for the former All-Star, but we’ll see what Kerr has in mind.
As for Durant, Kerr said today that the former Finals MVP probably won’t be able to practice before Game 2, making it unlikely he suits up until at least Game 3 (Twitter link via Marc Berman of The New York Post).