The Warriors made a change to their lineup Sunday.
DeMarcus Cousins returned to the court in the opener of the NBA Finals against the Raptors after missing most of the postseason with a torn quad and surprisingly started Game 2. Golden State coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic after the game he made the adjustment in part to offset the loss of Kevin Durant, who has been out since straining his calf in the team’s second-round series.
“We talked about it as a staff two days ago,” Kerr said. “It was pretty much unanimous that we should start (Cousins). He’s starting to feel healthier. I thought he gave us some good minutes the other night.
“And let’s face it, with the injury to Kevin (Durant), we need some scoring punch from another position besides the backcourt.”
Cousins finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes of action in Golden State’s 109-104 win, which evened the series at 1-1.
Warriors center Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson both left the game with injuries.
“What an avalanche here from Golden State!”
🚨: TOR 1-1 GSW, Game 3
⏰: 9:00pm/et – Wednesday, 6/5
🇺🇸: ABC 🇨🇦: Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/ebRwghf6B2
— NBA (@NBA) June 3, 2019
“(Cousins) was great,” Kerr said during his postgame press conference. “We came in thinking, all right, he can maybe play 20 minutes and he gave us almost 28. … He was fantastic and we needed everything he gave out there, his rebounding, his toughness, his physical presence, getting the ball in the paint, and just playing big, like he does. We needed all of that.”
Warriors star Stephen Curry also praised Cousins after the victory.
“He was special,” Curry told reporters. “Obviously you get more comfortable, more minutes and playing aggressive when he’s out there, puts a lot of pressure on their defense. And even on our defensive end, making his presence felt blocking shots, being in the right place at the right time. It’s a big lift for us. I know he’s been waiting a long time to be on this stage.”
“It’s a big lift for us.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 3, 2019
The Warriors will host Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which will tipoff Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.