Warriors still dangerous despite Kevin Durant KO

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This column comes to you from my bedroom, where I’m currently laid out recovering from an Achilles’ rupture suffered while trying to run my 10-year-old daughter through drills.

Surgery went well, thanks. Kevin Durant faces the same uncomfortable future, but he’s got hundreds of millions on the line next month as he maps out his future while injured, disappointingly suffering a similar injury after returning from a calf strain prematurely in order to help the Golden State Warriors avoid elimination in Game 5.

Despite doctors telling him he was past the point where he could re-injure himself after exiting Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals with a non-contact injury, Durant was helped off the floor and back to the locker room just a few minutes into the second quarter. He’d made his first three 3-pointers and looked sharp, but took a misstep trying to create a shot against Raptors forward Serge Ibaka and instantly went down.

If an MRI he was scheduled to undergo Tuesday in the Bay Area reveals a full rupture, we’re unlikely to see him play until sometime in the first quarter of 2020, likely missing most of next season. It remains to be seen what uniform he’ll wear since he’s got the option to opt in and remain with Golden State or test free agency and hope teams offer him a max contract despite his uncertain future.

Visibly shaken, his Warriors rallied without him, leading for the bulk of the game before running out of gas down the stretch prior to Kawhi Leonard taking over. Their dynasty looked dead with 3:05 left. Toronto had the ball and a 103-97 lead after Leonard had led the Raptors on a 12-2 run. Head coach Nick Nurse called a dubious timeout to set up a play to try and extend the lead and secure the series but ended up second-guessing that decision since the champs gained their bearings, closing on a game-winning 9-2 run to steal the result and force a Game 6 on Thursday.

Durant is done. Forward Kevon Looney is hoping to play through a fractured collarbone that was re-aggravated enough for him to leave the contest Monday. Andre Iguodala looks like he’s running on fumes, having played far too many minutes this postseason. Following a regular season in which he played 30 or more minutes just seven times, Iguodala has done so 10 times over the last 14 games he’s played since April 28.

After entering Game 5 getting 5-1 odds to come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit, the Westgate SuperBook has trimmed that figure in half to +250. Golden State is favored to win what will be the final game ever played at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, which means we could get our first Game 7 since 2013. But it won’t be easy for them to hold serve.

Klay Thompson looks healthy after sitting out Game 3 with a hamstring strain, but Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins and Looney will all likely play major roles despite coming in at less than 100 percent, which makes surviving even one game against the deeper, healthier Raptors all the more daunting. Money immediately came in on Toronto after the Game 6 line was set at 3.5, knocking it down to three points, which is where it resided at most shops on Tuesday morning.

The Raptors have won their three games by at least nine points while Golden State pulled out a five-point win and a one-point squeaker, so you may want to see if the money line dips to a more favorable position in the -135 range and ride that instead of laying a full possession if you’re of the belief the series is going the distance.

The good news for those who stand to lose their investment on Warriors’ futures is that they’ve yet to put together a complete game in the series. Their Game 2 win came largely on the strength of an 18-0 run to open the second half while Monday’s conquest came courtesy of a late flurry that saw Golden State make all the right moves on the defensive end while getting both Splash Brothers clean looks when it mattered most.

The Dubs still have the ability to put together their best performance to turn back the Raptors and are always capable of stealing any game by outperforming an opponent from beyond the arc. They were bullied in Game 5, especially following Durant’s departure, yet persevered by shooting 20-for-42 on 3-pointers. They made 12 more than the Raptors, the second-largest difference in made 3’s in Finals history.

Don’t write off the champs. Draymond Green has nearly averaged a triple-double but still has the ability to take his production up a few notches. Curry and Thompson have a 40-point game in them if they get hot.

For value’s sake, you should back the Warriors to come back in this series and should have done so prior to Game 5 once news of Durant’s return made the rounds. Golden State has yet to win at home in the Finals. Considering the franchise is moving across the bay to San Francisco come the fall, I’m counting on Oakland to show up and show out, offering the team a much-needed boost.

For your free pick this week, I’m recommending that you bank on seeing a Game 7 come Father’s Day Sunday. Lay the points or ride the money line if you see it come down a little.

Durant’s return led to the largest total of the series (215), but the number should be back down in the 210 range for the remainder of the series after sitting at 212-213 for the first few games. Both teams have proven they can defend and bog the other team down in the halfcourt, but both teams can get hot enough from the perimeter that the over/under game could go either way.

Things should slow down even further if there’s a Game 7, so you’re probably want to get in on the low side if the Finals make it to Sunday.

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About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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