TORONTO — Barring a setback, Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant is expected to return from a right calf strain at some point midway through the NBA Finals, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
There’s some optimism within members of the organization that a Game 3 arrival could be viable, but there’s a stronger possibility that Game 4 is the most logical option, sources said.
Head coach Steve Kerr announced Wednesday that Durant was cleared to take part in individual on-court basketball activities, but the 10-time All-Star — who has missed the past six postseason games — actually began his on-court basketball workouts earlier this week, sources said.
The 7-foot forward has about three or four days of on-court work under his belt, sources said. His teammates are encouraged by his progress.
Kerr explained that Durant must go through a full practice before he is given the green light to return to action.
The franchise, sources said, does not foresee a scenario in which Durant would be completely unavailable during the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, who took a 1-0 series lead on Thursday after a 118-109 victory.
Teammates described Durant as being sick to his stomach for being a spectator for such an important contest on the road in a hostile Scotiabank Arena.
Durant’s postseason production of 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game has been missed greatly by the Warriors.
Toronto boasts one of the deepest rosters in the association, and outside of Stephen Curry (34 points) and Klay Thompson (21 points), Golden State struggled to find a reliable No. 3 scoring option Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Raptors had three players register 20 or more points in Pascal Siakam (32), Kawhi Leonard (23) and Marc Gasol (20), with Fred VanVleet leading all reserves with 15 points.
As long as Durant is out of commission, the Warriors’ depth will be tested this series. To make matters worse, Warriors forward Andre Iguodala appeared to injure his leg late in Game 1.
“KD’s an all-time great player on both ends of the floor, so I could sit here and talk for days about what he adds to our roster,” Curry said. “We obviously have proven that when he’s out, we can have guys step up and that’s going to be the case until he gets back.”
Golden State will not practice on Friday, setting it up potentially for Durant to join Saturday’s session before Game 2 on Sunday. But in the short term, the Warriors must find a way to get by without their star forward.
“If he’s out there, he’s pretty good, but if he’s not out there, we play with the guys we have and we have got enough,” Kerr said. “We have won the last, whatever, six games without him, five, six games. So we have enough, but you play with the guys who are healthy and you go. So we’ll see what happens.”