The Golden State Warriors win a pivotal Game 5 against the Houston Rockets to go up 3-2 in the series but they lost Kevin Durant in the process. He suffered a mild tear in his right hamstring and will miss some time. How long will Durant be out and what does that mean for the Warriors’ playoff chances?
A hamstring tear takes about two weeks to heal so Durant will miss the remainder of the games in the Warriors-Rockets series. That might scare Warriors fans but the Warriors looked great when Durant did leave the game in the third quarter. Golden State outscored the Rockets and won the game without Durant. So the Warriors can win and I expect head coach Steve Kerr to design lots of plays to get Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson a lot of looks.
Durant has been a huge part of the Warriors playoff success this year but he has also been a problem. He plays great in isolation and that means a lack of ball movement. Without Durant, you will see a lot more movement by the Warriors and I think they will play great considering how much Curry and Thompson run when Durant isn’t on the court.
The series is not over but the Rockets will think this is a blessing. It may be a curse because the Warriors are going to be more annoying when no one player holds the ball for most of the shot clock. We may see the Rockets come out and struggle in Game 6 because they won’t be prepared for the Warriors screens and open looks.
If the Warriors make it to the Western Conference Finals, Durant won’t be back until Game 5. Any earlier and his mild tear might become a serious injury. Neither the Warriors or Durant will risk that so that is the earliest he may come back and that is the Warriors being optimistic.
Can the Warriors win without Durant for an extended period of time? The answer is yes they can. They have dominated without Durant in the past and beat the Rockets without Durant in most of the second half. Curry and Thompson will have to score at least 60 between them and that is doable. They will also need contributions from the three other starters to win because if the Warriors score a 100, then they should win because defense hasn’t been an issue for this Warriors team.