Kevin Durant’s status in this NBA Finals has been a major storyline for the entire series, but with the Golden State Warriors in an unexpected 3-1 hole against the Toronto Raptors — with the Raps having a chance to close things out Monday to capture their first ever NBA title — the whole “will Durant even play?” question has picked up even more steam. Could the two-time NBA Finals MVP really miss the entire series? Maybe… but ESPN’s Jay Williams doesn’t think you should expect that to happen.
Talking on First Take Monday morning, Williams — who said he spent time with Kevin Durant on Sunday — mentioned that he’d be “shocked” if the superstar doesn’t play in Game 5. Williams added that he’s neither “confirming nor denying” that Durant will be back, but said it’d be surprising not to see him out there.
“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.”
“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.”
If this were to happen and Kevin Durant does play in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it could provide a major shift. After all, adding a one-time league MVP and, arguably, the best player on the planet to a team down 3-1 would give them a boost in confidence and talent. Plus, it’d sort of make up for that reported misunderstanding that happened prior to Game 4, when Warriors players allegedly “didn’t understand” why Durant wasn’t in the lineup.
Regardless of who you want to see win this series — with most Americans hoping the Raptors close it out — as a basketball fan, here’s to hoping Kevin Durant returns and makes this a lot more interesting. There’s been a lot of drama already leading up to this point, and his comeback would create an even more dynamic showdown.