When Kevin Durant left the floor late in the third quarter Wednesday night, many feared the worst. After KD hobbled to the locker room with a non-contact right-leg injury, some speculated that it could be an Achilles tear, something that would end his season, and change the course of his NBA future.
— KNBR (@KNBR) May 9, 2019
Luckily, that is not the case according to the Warriors. Durant was quickly diagnosed with a right-calf strain, a far less serious injury, but one that will nonetheless have an effect on the remainder of Golden State’s series vs the Rockets.
Just a few hours after the diagnosis we don’t know a ton about how this will play out over the next few days and beyond, but here’s what we do.
An Achilles injury has been ruled out
This is the best news. Here’s what Kerr said following the game:
“Yeah, no it’s not the Achilles. When I walked into the coach’s office after the game, the replay of the play was going on. I thought the same thing 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.”
The Warriors will not know for sure the extent of the injury until there is an MRI on the affected area Thursday. That will determine if Durant makes the trip to Houston for Game 6.
Regardless of the MRI, it’s extremely unlikely Durant plays in Game 6
This is more than just speculation. Kerr said this himself when speaking with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic after the game. It stands to reason that the likelihood of Durant returning for a potential Game 7 is higher, but no one will begin speculate on that until Thursday’s MRI. Game 7 would take place Sunday.
The timetable for a calf strain fluctuates wildly depending on the severity
According to the Boston Sports Medicine & Research Institute, there are three degrees of calf strains. The first has a timetable for return of about one to three weeks, the second three to six, and the third, a complete tear of the muscle, many weeks or months to heal.
Considering Durant left the court under his own power, it’s highly unlikely that he suffered a full tear of the calf muscle, so a long-term absence can probably be ruled out. Based on these timetables, however, even the most minor tear would be expected to take at least a week to heal, meaning KD would be done for the remainder of this series. That doesn’t mean that will happen. Keep in mind these timetables don’t account for a person who has a dynasty-extending Game 7 on the line.
Durant has had this injury before, twice
“We talked about he had that injury before I think two years ago in the Portland series, so just going back into his experience about what it’s going to take to get back on the floor as fast as possible,” Stephen Curry told reporters after the game.
Durant did indeed strain his calf, this time his left one, during his first ever playoff series with the Warriors in 2017. The strain was of the first degree variety and Durant missed two games of the series, sitting on the shelf for a total of eight days.
Durant sustained the injury again last season, this time to his right calf, during a January game vs. Dallas.
Seems this is the likely first quarter play that Kevin Durant hurt his right calf pic.twitter.com/vmVzBxVxBT
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 4, 2018
Interestingly, Durant actually finished the game after getting injured in the first quarter. He then went on to sit out the next three games over the following seven days.
Durant’s injury on Wednesday was unquestionably more severe than this one, considering he left the game immediately and didn’t return. It does, however, also show that this injury can be played though under the right circumstances.
Whether or not KD will have to do that in this case remains to be seen.