Kevin Durant missed more than a month with a sprained MCL.
After a mid-season leg injury cut his season short, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant has been fully cleared to practice, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. Barring a major setback, he will return to action for the team’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Durant missed five weeks after he suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in a Feb. 28 game against the Washington Wizards. The Warriors have gone 15-5 without their All-Star forward, but went 2-5 through the first seven games of his recovery.
Prior to his injury, Durant was Golden State’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, averaging 25 points, eight rebounds, almost five assists and 1.6 blocks per game. He is expected to rejoin a Warriors team that has cemented its standing as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Prior to his injury, the Warriors were outscoring teams by 12.5 points per game with Durant in the lineup, according to ESPN Stats & Info, the largest margin in NBA history. His defensive impact may have played a hand in that.
What this means for the Warriors
Durant is a former league MVP and a three-time NBA scoring champion. Imagine losing him for five weeks on a team pegged to make a championship run.
Now, imagine getting him back before the playoffs even hit.
The Warriors had just hit their groove without KD, rattling off 13 straight wins with a victory over Phoenix on Wednesday. Now, they get arguable their best player back in the rotation with three games to re-adjust to his game.
Golden State showed how dominant of a team they could be when Durant was in the rotation. The Warriors were the last team standing with a single-digit loss column before his injury. They’ve since batted down every team that stepped up to challenge.
And with Durant finally in tow, the path to the NBA Finals looks that much clearer.
What this means for the rest of the NBA
Run. Hide. Pray. Or just quit.
Durant’s injury was the only chink in the Warriors’ armor. Now that he’s back, Golden State is more impervious to defeat than ever before. In truth, the Cavaliers are only team that truly had a chance to compete with the Warriors.
But now that Kevin Durant’s expected to be back before the playoffs hit, it will be a tough road for LeBron James to repeat as champion this year.