The Golden State Warriors entered a critical game Friday night with Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney coming back to help Steph Curry and the rest of the Warriors even the score against the Toronto Raptors. The thinking of many was the return of Klay would boost the scoring and Looney would give them one of their best big men back. Unfortunately, the return of Thompson and Looney was not enough, as the Raptors used an incredible third quarter to take the lead and control of the game, leading to a 3-1 lead in the series. Game 5 is Monday and this could mean the end of their season for the Golden State Warriors or it could mean the return of someone that could help them.
Kevin Durant sat away from the team in street clothes watching the game from the back. He tried to prepare to play before Game 4, but it just did not work out and he was not able to play. The result is he was there to greet his teammates after their second straight loss in the NBA Finals, undoubtedly looking unhappy when he was greeting them. So now the watch is on for Game 5 for Durant. Will he or won't he play? There were reports from different places saying that he did not look good in his practice he went through leading into Game 4, so more than likely those same reports will be around speculating on his health heading into Game 5. Only Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors training staff know how close or how far he is away from returning, but now time is of the essence as the Warriors are on the brink of extinction.
If he is able to play on Monday night, his return would give the Warriors a huge boost of energy on the court. Aside from that though, he would give them a huge boost offensively. Sure, he will probably not be fully healthy if he comes back Monday night, but he will be heathy enough to be a worry for the Raptors. Just him being on the floor takes attention away from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, which gets them more open shots. And with shooters that deadly, a few open shots could get them shooting three-pointers like they were easy layups. Along with helping people like Steph and Klay open shots, Durant can also be a drought stopper for the Warriors. Any time the Warriors have any issues scoring, they tend to lean on Durant to get them out of that drought. And if he is back and able to do those type of things, he will be able to continue the continuity of their offense and make it even more lethal. He is the only play on the Warriors team that can get to any spot on the floor and make things happen with his shot or with a pass and right now, him being off the floor makes things a little harder for the Warriors to manufacture offense when the jumper isn't going for Steph or Klay.
Defensively, they miss Kevin Durant for a few reasons. Many people talk about the Warriors Hamptons Five lineup and what they can do offensively to put pressure on people. However, when the Hampton Five, which consists of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant were on the court together as a defensive unit, they caused serious problems for people. Draymond is the anchor of that defensive unit and calls a lot of things out for the defense. While Draymond acts as if he is a defensive coordinator on the court, Durant acts like the eraser. Out of this group, he is the only one that can be a shot-blocker consistently because of his length and agility. His ability to move and his size allows for him to be able to erase some things at the rim or discourage some from wanting to approach the rim. This, in turn, makes the Golden State defense even tougher. If he is able to return Monday and even if he isn't at full strength, he could make things a little more difficult for the Raptors.
Along with the way Durant can clean things up defensively, he could also help them with Kawhi Leonard. The Warriors have put Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Alfonzo McKinnie on Leonard the entire series. And outside of Game 1, Kawhi has been torching the Warriors and has been essentially unguardable. Durant will not be fully healthy, but he should be healthy enough to bother Kawhi Leonard. He may not have the mobility he would have if he not suffering through an injury, but he does have long arms and he is essentially seven foot tall. McKinnie, Thompson not Iguodala can offer that type of size and length and it could force Kawhi into tougher shots. The more Kawhi has to work to get his shots, the more the Raptors would have to depend on other players to get buckets. He is the focal point of their offense and consistently asking others for the Raptors to take over his scoring load puts them in pressure situations and no one knows if the supporting cast can handle those responsibilities.
The series isn't over because of a 3-1 deficit. The Warriors have overcome that deficit and lost after having that lead in a series before, so they would know it isn't over. While they still have a shot to win, it would be helpful for them to have Kevin Durant come back and be the superhero they need to come in and help save the day.