6:39pm: Durant will play, Kerr told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix and other media members during his pre-game press conference (Twitter link).
1:49pm: Warriors forward Kevin Durant is set to take the court for the first time in more than a month on Monday night, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Durant plans to play in Game 5.
Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link) first reported that, despite being listed as a game-time decision, Durant was expected to be a “full go” for Monday’s contest.
Durant has been sidelined since May 8, when he suffered a calf injury during Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Rockets. Golden State finished off Houston in Game 6 and swept the Trail Blazers in the Western Finals, but the club has missed Durant on both ends of the floor against the Raptors. The Dubs are facing potential elimination tonight, down 3-1.
Durant wasn’t medically cleared to practice until this weekend, following Golden State’s Game 4 loss, so his participation in any sort of practice, shootaround, or scrimmage has been extremely limited. It remains to be seen how effective he’ll be upon his return, but head coach Steve Kerr indicated earlier today that there the team didn’t have a specific minutes cap in mind for the two-time Finals MVP (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic).
Even if his conditioning isn’t up to par, Durant could have a significant impact on the game and the rest of the series. The Warriors have struggled to space the floor in his absence and haven’t had enough answers for Toronto on the defensive end. Just having Durant on the court to take minutes from the likes of Alfonzo McKinnie, Jonas Jerebko, and/or Quinn Cook will change how the Raptors line up against the Warriors’ offense and attack their defense.
Still, Durant’s return offers no guarantees for the Warriors, especially if he’s limited by his calf issue. If Golden State loses tonight, it could be KD’s last game as a Warrior.