With the Warriors facing a 3-1 deficit as the NBA Finals shift back to Toronto, many media members are theorizing that Golden State’s only hope is a return by Kevin Durant. Although Durant joined his team for the trip to Canada, his status remains uncertain. The MVP of the last two Finals hasn’t played or participated in a full practice since suffering a calf strain a month ago in the Western Conference semifinals.
There’s no question that a healthy Durant would make a difference. He was magnificent as usual before the injury, posting a 26.0/6.4/5.9 line in 78 regular season games and leading all playoff scorers at 34.2 points per game. Golden State hasn’t lost a postseason series since he joined the team three years ago.
Still, it may be an overstatement to say the Warriors would be in control of the series if he were available. The Raptors might be the best team they have faced over the past three seasons and have already dispatched a talented Sixers team and this year’s probable MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kawhi Leonard has reminded everyone that he’s one of the league’s best players, and he’s surrounded by a talented supporting cast that is proficient on both ends of the floor.
Even if Durant returns for Game 5, there are questions about how effective he can be. The Warriors haven’t issued any progress reports on his condition, other than vague statements expressing hope that he’ll be back before the playoffs end. Timing would be a concern for someone who hasn’t been on the court for a month and is trying to return to the game at its highest level.
We want to get your opinion on whether Durant’s return can save the series for the Warriors. Would his natural talent be enough or would he just provide a distraction and an easy target for the Raptors to exploit on defense? Please leave your answers in the space below.