The playoff race in the Western Conference will be entertaining, but let’s face it. The outcome is already determined.
The Golden State Warriors received a shocking blow when the results of Kevin Durant’s MRI came back on Wednesday. The scan revealed the All-Star forward has a sprained left knee and bruised tibia, which means he will miss at least four weeks.
Durant suffered the injury in the first quarter of his first game against his hometown Washington Wizards as a member of the Warriors. The team is hoping he will be available to play in time for the first round of the playoffs.
“You’re never comfortable when you lose one of the best players in the league,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
Durant indeed is one of the top-three players in the NBA, but this injury doesn’t do anything but extend the Warriors’ postseason by a few games, that’s if the injury lingers past the regular season. Series that would go four or five games with a healthy Durant could now go six or seven games without the former MVP.
Let’s think logically here. The Warriors still have three All-Stars who were a part of the greatest regular-season team in NBA history. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will be more than enough to keep their team on pace to secure the number one seed in the Western Conference.
Durant will be re-evaluated in four weeks, but in the meantime the Warriors are being proactive. According to CSN, two hours after signing Jose Calderon, the team released him in order to sign Matt Barnes for the remainder of the season.
Barnes returns to the Warriors after being released by the Sacramento Kings last week. Although Durant is irreplaceable, Barnes is a veteran swingman who can bring valuable minutes off the bench assuming Steve Kerr inserts David West in the starting lineup at power forward.
According to ESPN, Durant was having one of the best seasons of his career before the injury. The 28-year-old leads the Warriors in points per game (25.3), rebounds (8.2), blocks (1.2) and free throw attempts (372).
In order to stay atop the Western Conference and hold the San Antonio Spurs off, Stephen Curry will need to return to his MVP form of the previous two seasons.
The race continues for the Warriors tonight as the team will play their first game without Durant on the road against the Chicago Bulls.