NBA playoffs 2019: Charles Barkley says Warriors need Kevin Durant to win championship

NBA legend Charles Barkley doesn’t think the Warriors will be able to win the NBA championship without Kevin Durant, who is recovering from a calf injury.

Many have said the Warriors are playing better without Durant on the court even though some thought Golden State wouldn’t beat Houston without the two-time Finals MVP. But the Warriors ended up closing out the semifinals series against the Rockets in six games and now hold a 2-0 series lead over the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals entering Saturday’s Game 3 (9 p.m. E,  ESPN).

“I think they played three fantastic games in a row, but anybody who thinks they’re going to win a world championship without Kevin Durant, don’t know anything about basketball,” Barkley, an 11-time All-Star who currently works as an analyst for TNT, said on ESPN’s “Get Up!” on Friday. “They’re not going to beat the Milwaukee Bucks without Kevin Durant.”

“Steph (Curry) and Klay Thompson have been fantastic, but listen – the Warriors are not going to win the championship without KD. I hear some of these guys … there’s better ball movement and all this other stuff. Hey, they’ve played three great games in a row but let’s not write the Trail Blazers off first and foremost.”

Durant has missed Golden State’s past three games with a strained right calf he sustained during Golden State’s Game 5 win over the Rockets last week. He won’t travel with the team for Games 3 and 4 of the conference finals in Portland, though he has “shown good progress” since beginning his rehab program.

It’s not clear when Durant is going to return as he will be re-evaluated next week, but Barkley believes the Warriors won’t have a shot in the NBA Finals if the Bucks advance as well. Milwaukee is leading its Eastern Conference final series against the Raptors, 2-0.

“Milwaukee Bucks are going to win the world championship, and I’m sticking by that,” Barkley added.