The Golden State Warriors kept their chances off a three-peat alive on Monday night with a over the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals to stave off elimination and cut the Raptors' series lead to 3-2. That was the good news. The bad news, is that in the second quarter, Kevin Durant suffered an apparent right Achilles injury in his first game back since straining his calf.
After spending over a month sidelined due to the calf injury that he suffered against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals, Durant returned to action for Game 5 against the Raptors on Monday night. The reigning Finals MVP , as he connected on his first three attempts from beyond the arc and scored 11 points in the first quarter. Unfortunately, his return was cut short in the second quarter when he re-injured his right leg.
After the halftime break, the Warriors announced that Durant would not return to the game due to a "right lower leg injury" and will get an MRI on Tuesday. While they will not know for sure just how severe the injury is until that MRI is conducted, Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN are reporting that the team believes Durant's MRI on Tuesday will confirm a torn right Achilles tendon. Durant will reportedly travel to New York to have his Achilles tendon evaluated by doctors, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Following the game, a visibly emotional Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers met with the media members in Toronto and confirmed that Durant had, in fact, sustained an Achilles injury, but that the full extent of the injury was not yet known.
"It's an Achilles injury," Myers said, while fighting off tears. "I don't know the extent of it. He'll have an MRI tomorrow. ... I don't believe there's anybody to blame. But I understand this world. And if you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department."
During the third quarter, Durant was spotted leaving the Warriors' locker room at Scotiabank Arena on crutches and wearing a walking boot which provided fans with another indication of how serious Durant's latest injury is.
Durant's injury has major long-term implications for the Warriors, and the league at large, but in the short-term it continues to leave the Golden State with a major hole in their lineup in the middle of the NBA Finals. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have carried a large load for the Warriors during Durant's absence, but they have needed additional help on the offensive end throughout the Finals.
During the brief action Durant saw in Game 5, the Warriors clearly benefited from his on-court contributions. Now they will have to hope that some other members of their frontcourt can step up on the offensive end.
Considering the fact that Durant will likely miss the remainder of the series, the Raptors continue to be the favorites to take home the title. SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, has the Raptors currently winning the Finals in 75 percent of simulations and Warriors 25 percent.
While his long-term health now comes into question, Durant took to social media to show support for his teammates after their victory in Game 5.
"I'm hurting deep in the soul right now I can't lie," Durant wrote. "But seeing my brothers get this win was like taking a shot of tequila, I got new life. #dubs"
We will know more regarding the severity of Durant's injury after his MRI on Tuesday.