Golden State Warriors All-NBA forward Kevin Durant moved one step closer to a potential return to action on Sunday afternoon, joining his teammates in a practice for the first time since injuring his calf back in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals versus the Houston Rockets.
[Update] The San Francisco Chronicle reports as of Monday morning that Durant is all but cleared to play in Monday night's Game 5, and is expected to play, even though he's still listed as a game-time decision pending some pre-game setback.
"The Golden State Warriors have listed forward Kevin Durant as questionable for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on Monday.
. . .
Head coach Steve Kerr was optimistic that Durant could play Monday if he went through Sunday's practice without any issues.
'He's going to practice with us today,' Kerr said prior to the practice. 'And he'll get some extra work in with some of our younger players. We'll gauge it from there.'"
Durant was seen exiting the locker room with ice packs wrapped around his calf and Achilles tendon, following his participation in the Sunday Warrior practice. The team should know more in the morning, as KD will have had a night of rest after putting his calf to the test.
As for Durant's teammates, they are all anxious to get their star back as soon as possible. They will undoubtedly prepare to play Game 5 with or without him, but just listening to their remarks regarding his return, KD's fellow Warriors are missing him:
"He [Durant] will be very welcome, I'll say that much," [Klay] Thompson said. "I think it's pretty easy to realize we obviously miss him out there, and he's propelled us to two championships in the last two years. So it would be pretty storybook if he could come back and help us do the same. But injuries are the hardest part of sports. You just got to play through them -- not play through them, but manage the injury. It's tough. I mean, I went through it. Kevin's is much more serious than all of ours, and I know how badly he wants to be out there. He's one of the best competitors I've ever been around."
Stephen Curry offered his own take:
"It's just having another powerful weapon out there that can do some very dynamic things on the floor. We'll be able to adjust in transition pretty smoothly. He's been in plenty of Finals and has played well. No matter what percentage he's at, I'm sure he'll be impactful and effective out there. But again for myself or anybody in our rotation who's been playing a lot of minutes, we just have to be aggressive and smart and competitive, especially on the defensive end. And the rest should take care of itself."
If nothing more, Kevin Durant's return would at the very least mean another body the Raptors will have to honor and devote prime defenders to. His ability to turn the defensive intensity up and provide instant offense when the Splash Brothers are still searching for their shots is priceless. Plus, the psychological lift of having a guy like Durant back on the floor can only bolster a team's chances – especially the Warriors.
KD is officially listed as "questionable" ahead of tonight's Game 5 in Toronto. The Bay Area waits with bated breath for the news regarding his availability for the first of a potential three consecutive "must-wins" for the Dubs.
Photo: Game-Face Photos