The Golden State Warriors are seemingly back to their winning ways, even without Kevin Durant. The back-to-back Finals MVP suffered a right calf strain in the third quarter of Game 5 versus the Houston Rockets. This was quite worrisome for Golden State fans as losing one of its premier players could be detrimental to a team’s chance at a championship.
However, with the game there for the taking for the Rockets, the Warriors were still able to win, putting them up 3-2 in the series. The Rockets had a prime opportunity to take Game 6 at home, but blew the chance and lost the series 4-2. It was an encouraging game for the Warrior’s faithful as Steph Curry showed up huge and scored 33 points (all in the second half), reminding everyone why he’s s a two-time MVP.
This game was a statement win, serving as a reminder that prior to Durant’s arrival in Oakland in 2016, the Warriors had achieved exceptional success. They had won a championship and got the record for best regular season record ever of 73-9, breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls mark of 72-10. This great feat came the year before Durant signed, and once Durant was on the team, they seemed unstoppable as they won the next two NBA titles in 2017 and 2018.
While the roster now is slightly different than it was before Durant signed, it still has the main cogs needed to make the Warriors successful. The only major difference is that the bench is thinner. That lack of depth, however, is no problem when the team has all-star players like Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Demarcus Cousins and Draymond Green.
Circling back to the Durant injury, it has been reported he could be out until game four of the Western Conference Finals, provided he was to receive treatment every day and push to get back on the court. If he were to come back that early, it could make his calf worse, and he may never be at 100% again. Durant most likely won’t return until the Finals if the Warriors are to make it there, which is a very strong possibility.
While one can look at the past success of the Warriors before Durant was on the roster, that wouldn’t tell the whole story. Golden State has put together a staggering record of 24-1 when Durant didn’t play, but Curry was on the court. An example was the elimination game Friday night against the Rockets. In the past two seasons, the Rockets accumulated the most victories over the Warriors in regular season and postseason play out of any team in the league with 10. Houston’s star guards, James Harden and Chris Paul, were no slouches in Friday’s Game 6 as they put up 62 points combined. Curry and Thompson scored 60 combined points, and their bench stepped up too, scoring 33 points. So, if that game and the statistics presented are any indicator of how the Warriors can play without Durant, they’ll be just fine.
Contact Alex Raphael at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.