After watching a Herculean 47-point effort from Steph Curry fall short in Game 3, the Golden State Warriors will get some needed reinforcement for Game 4 — but maybe not as much as they were hoping for.
Earlier today, it was announced that Klay Thompson would play on Friday after missing Game 3 with a hamstring injury.
Kerr says Klay Thompson should play on Game 4. Durant is OUT.— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) June 6, 2019
The more surprising news, though, is that Kevin Durant has already been ruled out, nearly 30 hours before tipoff. The hope within the Warriors training staff, as we understand it, was that, coming off a shootaround on Wednesday, Durant could get in a scrimmage today in preparation for playing tomorrow. After reviewing the injury, they pulled the plug on the scrimmage... and on Game 4.
Kerr says Durant hasn’t had a setback — his calf just isn’t ready. There is still optimism he could return in The Finals. “The hope would be that he could still make it back for the end of this series.”— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) June 6, 2019
Initial reports heading into the NBA Finals said that Durant was planning to return in the “middle of the series”, with many people arriving at Game 4 (the literal middle point of a seven-game series) as the likely outcome. Now, given the ice wrap Durant had on last night and the early status update to out, it’s starting to look more like KD might not return to this series at all. The Achilles truthers are out there too.
There is a ton of talk regarding this instagram video of Kevin Durant in the tunnel at Oracle Arena last night.— Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6) June 6, 2019
Particularly the ice around his right leg, the placement seems a tad lower from the calf, & more towards an achilles. You be the judge.#RTZ #WeTheNorth #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/oVpV1COmSv
So what does this mean for the Raptors? Well, they can expect more from Steph Curry in Game 4, along with a less-than-100% Klay Thompson, and role players that have been inconsistent through three games. Even with three good legs between them, though, Curry and Thompson have the gravity to make the Warriors an incredibly dangerous team — making it more heartening that the Raptors are treating wins as unfinished business. There’s also always the threat of a shooter coming alive for Golden State, whether it be Quinn Cook, Andre Iguodala, or (god help us) Jonas Jerebko.
That said, Game 4 will be another opportunity for the Raptors, who have soared to 6-1 in their last seven games. If they can get a similar kind of team aggression on the offensive end as they did in Game 3, hunting matchups and exploiting them — Marc Gasol posting up DeMarcus Cousins, Pascal Siakam on Jerebko — they should have enough firepower to win. A lot will come down to defence as well, where Nick Nurse hasn’t been shy to throw curve balls for a few possessions at a time to get Curry off his game. Straightforward defence has worked too, as Fred VanVleet (eventually) tired Steph into some missed shots at the end of Game 3.
As for the narrative, put all the asterisks you want on the Raptors wins so far. I’m giving credit where it’s due, as Toronto has executed well and played with enough depth to get them to this 2-1 lead. Injuries are unfortunate, but they’ve been a part of almost every championship in NBA history. Game 4 is another chance for the Raptors to take advantage of an undermanned opponent. You can only play who’s in front of you, and they’ve done well so far.