Kevin Durant Rumors: Warriors 'Optimistic' for NBA Finals Game 4 Return

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2019

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, left, walks away from referee Ken Mauer during the first half of Game 5 of the team's second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets on  Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The Golden State Warriors are reportedly "cautiously optimistic" that Kevin Durant will return from his strained calf for Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday.

Nick Friedell of ESPN.com reported the news while noting the Warriors expect Klay Thompson to be in the lineup. Thompson missed the Warriors' Game 3 loss to the Toronto Raptors with a strained hamstring Wednesday, while Durant has been out since Golden State's conference semifinals win over the Houston Rockets.

"We probably won't practice, practice as a team, tomorrow," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. "It will be a film session and a walk-through. So if possible, we'll get him together with some of our young guys, maybe a few of our coaches, and try to get him out on the floor. That would be the next step."

Kerr previously said Durant would not play without practicing, though NBA teams rarely (if ever) do full practices during the Finals. He has also not been cleared by Warriors doctors for full practice, which could happen Thursday.

The Warriors won their first five games without Durant, including a Western Conference Finals sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. However, they've gone down 2-1 to the Raptors in their battered state and look more vulnerable than they have at any time in the past three seasons.

Durant was playing perhaps the best basketball of his career before being injured, averaging 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game in the Warriors' first 11 playoff contests. It seemed he had fully established himself as the best basketball player in the world and was spearheading an unstoppable team on its way to a third straight championship.

Now Durant may be the only thing that can save the Warriors from a surprising upset.