TORONTO – – Golden State forward Kevin Durant, returning from a month-long injury absence, started Game 5 for the Warriors as they faced elimination Monday night in the NBA Finals but exited in the second quarter after apparently aggravating his calf strain.
Jun 10, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots between Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and center Serge Ibaka (right) during the second quarter in game five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Durant had 11 points, two rebounds and one block to help the Warriors set the early pace.
In his first game since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, Durant grabbed for his right Achilles and calf area attempting to drive past Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka with 9:46 to play in the first half. The Warriors were leading 39-34, and the home crowd erupted with cheers as Durant crumbled to the hardwood.
Ibaka and Kyle Lowry motioned to hush the fans as Durant was walked to the other end of the court and down the tunnel to the locker room.
The Raptors hold a 3-1 series lead and are aiming to close out the championship series at home on Monday night.
Durant had missed nine games but was cleared to return to practice Sunday.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said pregame there would be no minutes restriction on Durant if he did play.
“You worry about the conditioning,” Kerr said. “The skill, obviously, is undeniable. He’s a guy who can get a shot off anytime he wants. … He’s Kevin Durant. If we have him out there, he’ll be a threat. We know that.”
Durant averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in the regular season. During the postseason, he is producing 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game entering Monday.
“The most difficult thing is just not being able to be out there with your teammates at the biggest time of the year,” Kerr said. “From that perspective, I have just felt bad for him. We all have. If you have a chance to play, go play and see what happens.”
—Field Level Media