The Warriors won a wild Game 5 on Wednesday night over the Rockets 104-99, in a game where Kevin Durant also left with a right-calf strain. Golden State is now guaranteed another game in Oracle Arena, but the course of the series has been altered. Here are three observations:
Kevin Durant sustains right-calf strain, throws wrench into remainder of series
— KNBR (@KNBR) May 9, 2019
Amidst a Rockets comeback in the third quarter of Game 5, Kevin Durant left the game and limped to the Warriors locker room with a right-calf strain. The play in question happened after Durant hit a mid-range jumper over Iman Shumpert. Durant appeared to land slightly on Shumpert’s foot, but didn’t appear to be in any initial discomfort. As he began his run back to the other end of the court, Durant pulled up lame, and was seemingly unable to move his right foot as he hobbled off the court.
The injury was initially thought to be much worse, with TNT analyst Reggie Miller speculating that it looked like an Achilles tear. Though far less severe, a strained calf typically takes around a week to recover from. Durant sustained the injury last season and was out for seven days, missing three games.
It’s unclear if the Warriors will be able to overcome the loss of Durant, who has been the best player for them in both this series and the playoffs. Stephen Curry will have to return to his two-time MVP form for Golden State to have a chance, and he was far from that on Wednesday night.
Curry wakes up late, but bizarre struggles continue
For three quarters of Wednesday’s Game 5, Curry was perhaps even worse than he was in his forgettable Game 3. Before Durant’s injury, Curry had 9 points, was 4-of-14, 1-of-8 from deep, and again missed a handful of contested layups. That last fact is perhaps the most baffling, and has been an issue throughout the series. If Curry plays like that through the first three quarters of Game 6 without Durant, the Warriors will lose.
They would’ve lost on Wednesday too, but Curry picked things up just enough in the fourth to push Golden State to victory. Following Durant’s departure, Curry scored 16 points, went 5-of-9, and hit a huge 3-pointer over Clint Capela with 5:09 to give the Warriors a four point lead. He scored 12 points in the final frame.
The Warriors will now need Curry to break out of his series-long slump and lead them to victory in Game 6 and maybe even Game 7. Doing so will only add to his legend, failure to do so will further the narrative that he’s just not the same player in the postseason.
Warriors get huge performances from Draymond, Klay, and Looney
Kevon Looney had perhaps the most impressive 5-9-2-1-1 stat line you’ll ever see with his performance Wednesday night. A liability during the two losses in Houston, Looney was a menace on the offensive glass, securing five second-chance rebounds, including a crucial one late that teed up Klay Thompson for the game’s defining shot with 2:34 remaining. He also had a fantastic block on a Chris Paul drive late in the fourth quarter.
💪 K E V O N 💪 pic.twitter.com/PJgRizPDlN
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 9, 2019
Looney also saved a potentially disastrous turnover on Golden State’s final possession, corraling a loose ball in the corner and passing it to Klay Thompson for a game-sealing layup.
Looney will need to be the same guy away from home in Game 6, and will likely see a significant increase in minutes.
Klay Thompson has been AWOL all series, but came up big in Game 5, opening things with 12 first quarter points. He finished with a team high 27, going 5-of-10 from deep. Klay had only scored 20+ once in the series, dropping 21 in Game 2.
Draymond continued his fantastic series with another near triple-double, dropping 8-12-11. Green eventually fouled out, but not before a massive sequence late in the fourth quarter. With five fouls, Green took a charge on Chris Paul with 3:39 remaining. Green bumped Paul during his celebration earning himself another technical foul, but punctuated the sequence by nailing a three-pointer on the ensuing possession.
Green assisted or scored on 21 of the Warriors points in the first quarter, while the entire Rockets team scored a total of 17.