Durant, who had an MRI Thursday for what the team called a right calf strain, is “not going to play Game 6” against the Houston Rockets, Coach Steve Kerr said late Wednesday.
The team confirmed that news on Thursday, saying in a statement that Durant “underwent an MRI exam” in the Bay Area that “confirmed the initial diagnosis” of a strained right calf. Durant will not travel with the Warriors to Houston for Friday’s Game 6, the team said, instead remaining in the Bay Area for treatment before being reevaluated next week. Golden State would host a potential Game 7 on Sunday; the Warriors lead the series, 3 games to 2.
The 10-time all-star forward was forced from Golden State’s 104-99 Game 5 victory over the Rockets with a little more than six minutes left in the third quarter just after he hit a pull-up jumper from the right wing over Houston’s Iman Shumpert to give Golden State a 68-65 lead. As he turned to run back down court, Durant looked over his shoulder as if he had been kicked and grabbed his lower right leg. He then walked gingerly to the Warriors bench before heading straight to the locker room.
In the initial moments, there were fears that he had ruptured his Achilles’ tendon.
“It’s not the Achilles',” Kerr said. “When I walked into the coach’s office after the game, the replay of the play was going on. I thought [it was an Achilles’ injury] because he kind of looked back like he had been kicked or something. I’ve seen that before with guys who have hurt their Achilles'. That was my first question. I was assured it’s a calf strain, not the Achilles'.”
Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer in the postseason, departed with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Warriors scored just 15 third-quarter points, but survived the initial shock of Durant’s injury to outscore the Rockets 32-27 in the fourth quarter to take a 3-2 series lead. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 27 points, while Stephen Curry scored 12 of his 25 points in the final period.
“Our guys are f---ing giants,” Kerr said, referencing similar comments made by Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp after his club’s stunning 4-0 Champions League semifinal victory over Barcelona on Tuesday.
Entering Wednesday’s action, Durant ranked sixth in the NBA playoffs in minutes played. He logged 50 minutes during a Game 3 overtime loss to Houston, the most minutes he had played in a playoff game since 2014.
Durant, 30, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The two-time Finals MVP has enjoyed relatively good health throughout his career, although he underwent three surgeries on his right foot that cost him a majority of the 2014-15 season.
Last season, Durant missed three games over a one-week span with a right calf strain. He also missed two games during the 2017 playoffs — the only two playoff games he has missed during his 12-year career — with a left calf strain.
The Warriors, who are seeking their third consecutive NBA title, lost starting center DeMarcus Cousins to a left leg injury during Game 2 of a first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Hopefully,” Kerr told Kawakami, “we get Kevin back at some point.”