Jay Williams Was with Kevin Durant, Would Be 'Shocked' If He Doesn't Play Game 5

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2019

FILE - In this Wednesday, May 8, 2019, file photo, 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 in Oakland, Calif. Durant is yet to progress to on-court work in his recovery from a strained right calf and won't be ready to return for Golden State in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on May 30. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

ESPN's Jay Williams said he was with Kevin Durant on Sunday and said he'd be "shocked" if the Golden State Warriors star does not play in Monday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

"The one thing you know about Kevin, Kevin loves big challenges. He loves the big stage. For him to be dropped back into Game 5 of the NBA Finals is a monumental thing. I would be shocked if we didn't see KD on the basketball court tonight. I'm neither confirming nor denying. This is up to the Golden State Warriors about how they want to do this, but if KD is not on the floor tonight, I would be shocked."

Durant practiced with the team Sunday and is listed as questionable. He has been out more than a month after straining his right calf during the Warriors' conference semifinals win over the Houston Rockets.

Williams added:

"Over the last couple of weeks, you've been reading all these different articles, this speculative talk about, 'Is Kevin really hurt? Is the injury worse than what it is? Does he really want to be part of this team?' He just got cleared the other day to play.

"Klay Thompson was cleared, Kevon Looney was cleared, Kevin Durant just got cleared yesterday to play. He practiced, he was in his bag, he said he felt good. I think tonight is looking to be an epic night."

Sam Amick of The Athletic reported "irritation grew" in the Warriors locker room after Durant was unable to play in their Game 4 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Players reportedly "didn't understand" why Durant could not play through his injury like Thompson and Looney had. DeMarcus Cousins also came back earlier than expected from a torn quad to play in the Finals.

After winning their first five games without Durant, the battered Warriors have dropped three of four in the Finals. Durant's return would give them a chance to become just the second team in NBA history to come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals, joining the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers—the team that paved the way for Durant to come to Golden State.

Durant was playing arguably the best basketball of his career before going down, averaging 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists on 51.3 percent shooting through the Warriors' first 11 playoff games. If KD comes back playing at that level, the Raptors may see their chances at a first-ever NBA championship crumble as the Durant era comes full circle.