Just when Golden State Warriors had begun to turn their post-All-Star break attention toward the playoffs, they’ll have to do it without small forward Kevin Durant, who injured a ligament in his left knee in the team’s 112-108 loss to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
Durant left the game against Washington in the first quarter when the Wizards’ Zaza Paluchia collided with him. The 275-pound center had to thwart questions blaming him for the injury. “I just saw the replay and I had no idea [Durant] was behind me,” Pachulia told reporters outside the locker room. “It was just a basketball play.”
This leaves Durant out of play for at least four weeks, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and the earliest he could return is the last week of March, when the Warriors have only eight games left in the regular season.
“When he’s healed and our doctors clear him and we feel like it’s safe, he’ll play,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers told reporters in a conference call. “I want to know as much as you guys but at this point the plan is just to reevaluate him and see where he’s at in four weeks.”
Still the Warriors are the best team in basketball right now with a 50-10 record, but despite Durant having to sit out, they’re still under the leadership of guard Stephen Curry who tweeted his well-wishes to his teammate.
Heal up my Man…we will hold it down til your back on the court with us. Prayers up! pic.twitter.com/R6CVJD9tZo
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) March 1, 2017
When the Warriors defeated the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, they became the first NBA team to clinch a playoff berth, and their attention now turns toward locking up the no. 1 seed in the Western Conference. It’s unclear how the team will fare without Durant, who has been averaging 25.3 points per game. Some sports writers have speculated that the San Antonio Spurs now have a serious chance at capturing the Western Conference.
While Durant is resting, Golden State meets up with the Spurs on March 29, in the midst of contests against Memphis, Washington and Houston twice. If three of those five games are dropped, then that could give San Antonio a path to knocking them off their perch, according to SB nation. But that’s one scenario. The Spurs need to grab some wins of their own because their 45-13 record puts them four games behind the Warriors.