You can’t announce the death of a dynasty without an appearance from the Slim Reaper (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Kevin Durant is back! After being sidelined with a calf injury suffered during the Western Conference Semifinals, the Warriors star forward is expected to take the floor in tonight’s potential elimination game. It has been slightly over a month since Durant last saw game action, so folks expecting him to put the Warriors on his back and carry the team to three straight victories after a single practice should probably temper their expectations. Still, even a version of Durant at 60 percent effectiveness is a significant upgrade over Alonzo McKinnie or Jonas Jerekbo, to put it mildly.
Golden State needs all the help it can muster, as Toronto took a 3-1 stranglehold on the series Friday night, despite Klay Thompson’s return from a hamstring injury. Steph Curry looked a bit tired from his 43-minute, 47-point Game 3 performance in a losing effort. He couldn’t quite match Kawhi Leonard, who dropped a personal series-high of 36 points, his third straight game of 30 or more points. Leonard is one more victory away from his second Finals MVP award, and if he does bring the city of Toronto its first NBA title before leaving in free agency, it will be one of the greatest mercenary achievements in sports history.
Still, one victory against Golden State is easier said than done, especially now that the Hamptons 5 are all available to take the floor together. Not only should Durant provide a much-needed boost on the offensive end, but he’s one of the few players in the world with the requisite combination of quickness and length to bother Kawhi defensively. The caveat, of course, is that it’s a healthy version of KD capable of slowing down the Claw.
Toronto is going to be a madhouse tonight. If you thought the fans in Jurassic Park were wild before, a win tonight and they’ll be running loose like the raptors hunting alongside Chris Pratt. As an impartial observer, I’m rooting for a Warriors victory, as I can’t turn down the idea of one or two more high-level basketball games this week. Yet, one more terrific 48-minute performance from the Raptors, and fans north of the border will be singing much more than “Oh, Canada.” Meanwhile, Sixers fans will have a long summer to ponder this sad reality:
One hand wash away lmao— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 8, 2019
Who: Toronto Raptors vs. Golden State Warriors
When: 9:00 pm EST
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
Listen: ESPN Radio