TORONTO, Canada (AFP) – Golden State Warriors star forward Kevin Durant, sidelined for a month by a right calf injury, practiced with the defending champions Sunday and could return for the must-win fifth game of the NBA Finals.
Improving enough for workouts means Durant might play Monday against Toronto, which owns a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and needs only one win to become the first team from outside the United States to win the NBA title.
“We’ll know more after that,” Kerr said without giving a timetable for a decision. “The mood is good. We’ve still got plenty to play for. We have an amazing opportunity and challenge. We’re going to do everything we can to meet that challenge. We’re excited about it.”
The Raptors, seeking the first title in their 24-season history, are ready if Durant – the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player – rejoins Golden State.
“If he plays, he’s an MVP. He’s really, really talented,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “But we can’t focus on that. We have to focus on ourselves. Play how we need to play, grind it out.”
To have a hope of winning a third consecutive NBA crown and fourth in five seasons, the Warriors must win Monday to force a sixth game Thursday in Oakland, then win that to force a winner-take-all showdown next Sunday in Toronto.
“You’re going to see a resilient Warrior team,’’ Golden State guard Klay Thompson said. “We’ve had our backs against the wall before. It’s a little more daunting being down 3-1, but usually when our backs are against the wall, we respond the best.’’
Durant, out since being hurt in a second-round game against Houston, leads the Warriors with 34.2 points a game. The Warriors won their first five games without him but have since struggled to contain Toronto.
“It’s just having another powerful weapon out there that can do some very dynamic things,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said.
“We’ll be able to adjust in transition pretty smoothly. He has been in plenty of finals and has played well. No matter what percentage he’s at, I’m sure he’ll be impactful and effective out there.”
“We just have to be aggressive and smart and competitive, especially on the defensive end, and the rest should take care of itself.”
Golden State has examined what went wrong after dropping two home games to the Raptors.
“I wouldn’t say we’re down at all,” Curry said. “It’s mostly just we’re anxious to get out there and play a great game. We know we can do it. It’s just a matter of proving it.”