Hey Warriors fans, raise a championship banner if you’ve heard this one before: Kevin Durant will not play Wednesday in Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.
Raise it to half-mast if this comes as a surprise: Klay Thompson might not play, either.
You may have something more impactful to worry about than Drake.
Since Durant injured his calf on May 8 in the second-round Western Conference series, the two-time defending champions have proven quite capable of taking care of themselves, Game 1’s loss in Toronto not-withstanding.
In fact, reasonable people have conjectured the Warriors might be just fine the rest of the way without KD because of the precedent of the championship won three years ago without him and the effortless sweep of Portland that brought them to this stage.
“Kevin is going to get on the floor at the practice facility later today,” coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday. “He did not get on the floor here. He was here for our film session and for some treatment, but he’ll be getting some work in this afternoon. He’s out for [Wednesday], but improving. And we’ll just keep updating you when we have something.”
But now that you add Thompson’s hamstring injury to the mix, now that you take his splash out of the puddle, the confidence level may not be quite as high. That’s a one-two punch that could crush the Warriors jaw.
“It will be a game-time decision,” Thompson said. “But for me personally, it would be hard to see me not playing. Hopefully I’ll feel much better tomorrow and be a go for tip-off.”
Kerr did not dispute Thompson’s sincerity. He knows the last thing the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent wants is to watch the sand slip through the hourglass with him in street clothes. It’s just there’s no way to tell yet and that makes everyone a bit uncomfortable.
“He thinks he’ll be ready to go,” Kerr said. “But as I said the other night, Klay is always going to say he’s ready to go. What we’ll have to determine is if that’s a risk? If he plays, are we risking anything?
“If the training staff feels good about his ability to go out there and play without making things worse, then he’ll play. But if there’s a risk, we would rather give him the next couple of days to continue to heal and hopefully have him out there for Game 4. But it’s literally day to day.”
At this point you’d have to admit Thompson’s absence, particularly if it’s prolonged, would be more troublesome for the Warriors. They have grown accustomed to playing without Durant. They have figured out how to compensate for his loss.
But there might not be enough time to sufficiently fill the Thompson void, particularly from way downtown where he lives and rains threes.
“Obviously I would do anything I can to be out there,” Thompson said. “But it’s all in their hands. If there’s any pain, it will be a no-go just because of the position we’re in. This could be a longer series, so there’s no point in trying to go out there and re-aggravate it and potentially keep myself out of the whole entire Finals instead of just one game.”
The good news is Thompson said he feels better than he did on Sunday after he was injured. The encouraging news is to remember he played through a high ankle sprain in last year’s Finals against Lebron’s Cavaliers.
“Last year, I think I was in a much worse position than I am now, which is good,” Thompson said. “That’s a good sign. Injuries are never fun. It’s the most unfortunate part of sports, but it tests your character. And playing through pain makes it all worth it in the end, especially this time of the year.”
So we know this: High pain threshold will not be an issue as much as mobility might.
“I think it’s just when I have to stop on a dime or make hard cuts,” Thompson said. “That’s when you feel it the most. But if I can just be out there even at 80 percent, I still think I can be very effective. I’ll do whatever I can to get to that full hundred. But if not, I’ll still be out there and trying to do what I can to help my team win.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Durant and Thompson are not their only problems. Center Kevon Looney will miss the rest of the series with a non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture suffered in Game 2. And Andre Iguodala’s calf hurts, too.
Remember that Thompson did not miss his first NBA game until his third season and that was because his grandfather passed away. He has now played eight seasons and has never once missed more than 10 in any year. If he can run and smile in the same stride, he will play.
“Since I’ve been here Klay hasn’t missed a ton of games and especially in the playoffs. It’s just continued to happen over and over. As a guy who had a high ankle sprain in high school, it’s tough,” Draymond Green told The Athletic. “And to see him play with a high ankle sprain last year in the Finals, I think that takes the cake. That’s an injury that takes forever to heal and he’s out there playing in the NBA Finals. That was incredible to me.”