Warriors' DeMarcus Cousins on Big Finals Game 2: 'I'm Looking Forward to Game 3'June 3, 2019
DeMarcus Cousins has reached the lowest of lows over the last year-and-a-half of his NBA career.
An Achilles tear ruined any chance he had of receiving a max contract last summer. After he worked his way back into the lineup and established himself as a vital member of the Golden State Warriors, he went down with a torn quad that threatened his postseason.
So Cousins could not help but bask in his 11-point, 10-rebound, six-assist, two-block outing in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, a performance that helped spur the Warriors to a 109-104 victory.
"It feels great," Cousins told reporters. "I've leaned on my teammates throughout this moment and throughout this whole process, and this was an incredible moment for me. But I'm not satisfied, and I'm looking forward to Game 3."
After playing only eight minutes in Game 1, Cousins started and played 28 minutes in Game 2. There were times he still looked a step slow and is clearly not at the full height of his abilities, but the Warriors were plus-12 with the four-time All-Star on the floor.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the following of Cousins:
"He was great. We came in thinking, all right, he can maybe play 20 minutes, and he gave us almost 28. There was only one time in the game when he needed a rest, which was mid-fourth, and we gave him a couple minutes and then got him back in the game.
"But 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. So I thought he was fantastic."
Most, including the Warriors, expected Cousins to miss the remainder of the playoffs when he went down with a torn left quad in Game 2 of Golden State's first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
However, Cousins consistently worked on rehabbing, and he said his desire to reach the Finals stage helped him push to get back on the floor:
"I want to be on this stage. This is what I've worked for my entire career, to be on this stage, to have this opportunity to play for something. But once they told me I had a chance, a slight chance, of being able to return, it basically was up to me, and the work and the time I put in behind the injury, it was up to me ...
"I've told y'all before, I don't take any of this for granted. I've seen how quick this game can be taken away from you. So every chance I get to go out there and play, I'm going to leave it on the floor."
Cousins' emergence is not only a great story but also a huge boost to the Warriors, who are battered as they look to win a third straight championship.
Kevin Durant is still not cleared for practice after suffering a strained right calf during Game 5 of the Warriors' conference semifinals matchup with the Houston Rockets. Golden State has managed to win six of seven without Durant, but many of those contests—including Game 2 against Toronto—required a double-digit comeback.
With Klay Thompson also suffering a left hamstring injury Sunday night, Cousins has gone from a happy addition to a vital piece in this series.