Warriors, Kevin Durant face reality he might not return in NBA Finals

Kevin Durant won’t play Friday in Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors, Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters.

If you’re wondering, it’s been 30 days since Kevin Durant, who suffered a strained right calf in Game 5 of the Warriors’ West semifinals series against the Rockets.

“I was hoping that today would be the day that he would get out on the floor. It’s not gonna be today, it’s probably going to be tomorrow,” Kerr told the room full of reporters Thursday. “So the hope would be that he can make it back before the end of the series.”

Re-read the last part of Kerr’s comment, with a maximum of only three games remaining in the Finals, and you see the very real possibility is this: Durant may not make it back this postseason.

As NBC Sports Bay Area noted:

“The Warriors aren’t saying he will miss what’s left of the NBA Finals, but the pattern of their statements since mid-May keeps sliding it closer to the possibility that the Toronto Raptors won’t have to deal with Durant.

“It’s a mild calf strain. It’s more serious than we initially thought. He’s progressing. We don’t know when he’ll be back. He’s doing everything he can to get himself ready to play. We have to go with the guys we have. He had a really good workout today, ramped it up and it went well. He’s unavailable for Game 4, a game the Warriors desperately need to win trailing the series two-games-to-one.”

Understand that the two-time defending champions have other health issues. DeMarcus Cousins, back in the Finals from a torn quadriceps, looked out of sorts in Game 3. Klay Thompson (strained hamstring) is expected to play in Game 4, but at what effectiveness? Draymond Green is dealing with a cranky knee, Andre Iguodala, 35, is limping on a sore calf, too, and Kevon Looney is trying to get back from a break in his ribcage.

None is exactly Zdeno Chara playing with a broken jaw in the Stanley Cup Final, but it’s a sufficiently long list that Stephen Curry’s dislocated finger scarcely registers.

“He’s just trying to get healthy,” Green said of Durant. “I’m not really sure if he’s been held out or he is – I mean, obviously, I think he’s still recovering and whatever. But, yeah, I don’t really know what’s Kevin’s day-to-day dealings with the training staff. I try to spend as (little) time in the training room as I can.”

According to multiple reports, Durant is being diligent with treatments and rehab, sometimes going above and beyond what’s necessary, according to NBC Sports Bay Area, which adds that Durant “wants to play, yearns for a chance to help the Warriors achieve their desired goal of a three-peat.”

But the clock is tick, tick, ticking.

“Knowing he’s not playing Game 4, we know what our rotations are going to be, everybody will lock in and go win that game,” Curry said. “And then when we get on the plane to go to Toronto (for Game 5 on Sunday), ask the same question. And we hope at some point he will be back, and when he does, like we said, we’ll be able to transition our perspective with him available.

“But until then it’s just on the daily, the moment is who is out there. Who is ready to play? And can we go win?”

Big final question there, posed by the guy who scored 47 points in Game 3 and, in Thompon’s and Durant’s absence, it wasn’t enough.

“It would suck if Kevin can’t come back,” Thompson said. “I still think we would have a good chance to win the Finals, but obviously that takes a huge hit. I don’t think it would make us the clear-cut favorite anymore without him.”

Adopting Curry’s “who’s ready to play?” mantra, Thompson takes on an outsized role starting Friday. If he can score a little and is up to containing Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, then Golden State has a shot at winning and buying Durant at least until Thursday’s Game 6 to try and get back.

But it’s going on five weeks since the Warriors initially projected that Durant would be sidelined two to three weeks. Time’s running out.