The Golden State Warriors reportedly believe Kevin Durant suffered a torn Achilles during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski.
In his first game back since suffering a strained calf in Game 5 of Golden State’s second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, Durant scored 11 points in 12 minutes before going down:
In the wake of KD’s injury, the Warriors managed to hold off the Raptors for a 106-105 win to cut the series deficit to 3-2 and force Game 6.
On the heels of consecutive losses to fall into a 3-1 series hole, Durant seemed to give Golden State the emotional and physical boost it needed. The Warriors held a 39-34 lead at the time of his injury and were clearly outplaying Toronto on its home floor.
KD’s exit easily could have deflated the Warriors, as Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala helped escort Durant to the locker room while he was in obvious pain:
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Steph and Dre walking KD to the locker room 🙏 (via @NBATV) https://t.co/k7WtMPkbaH
Instead, Golden State began to build on the lead, and it led by six both at halftime and entering the fourth quarter.
The Raptors stormed back and led by six with 3:28 left in regulation, but the Warriors struck back. Three consecutive triples (two by Klay Thompson and one by Curry) put Golden State back on top and gave it a lead it would not relinquish.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers addressed the media after the game, and while he expressed his belief that every precaution was taken to ensure Durant was ready to play, he also put the blame on himself for allowing it to happen:
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Bob Myers fighting back tears talking about KD’s injury: “I don’t believe there’s anyone to blame…if you have to, you can blame me.” (via @NBATV) https://t.co/6HcrfxTxfL
If Durant did suffer a torn Achilles, he is undoubtedly out for the remainder of the NBA Finals, but it will also impact his impending free agency.
KD is expected to test the market, and he has been linked to multiple teams other than the Warriors, including the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.
While Durant still figures to be a highly sought-after commodity on the open market, teams have to take into account the severity of an Achilles injury and how difficult it can be to recover from it. That is especially true of Durant, who will be 31 years old by the time the 2019-20 season begins.
Recovery timetables for a torn Achilles vary depending on the player, but for the sake of comparison, it took DeMarcus Cousins just short of one calendar year to return to game action after tearing his Achilles.
Cousins, who tore his Achilles on Jan. 26, 2018 while with the New Orleans Pelicans, signed a one-year deal with the Warriors, sat out nearly three months and then appeared in his first game for the Warriors on Jan. 18, 2019.
Given the timing of Durant’s injury, it is within the realm of possibility that he could miss the entire 2019-20 campaign, which means the team that signs him can’t necessarily rely on him making an immediate impact.