With 2:05 left in the third quarter of a highly contested game 5 Kevin Durant drove baseline right an elevated for a mid-range jumper. The shot bounces off the rim and he turns to run back on defense. In the process he stops looks back as if somebody kicked them, but nobody was there.
Durant immediately starts limping and at that moment a dark cloud covered Oracle Arena. You could hear a pin drop as everyone held their collective breath. Reggie Miller stated what everyone feared that KD may have suffered one of the most devastating injuries a player could suffer, and that is a torn Achilles. Durant limps back to the locker room and just like that Steph Curry steps up and reminds us of his greatness.
Prior to Durant’s injury, Curry was struggling mightily on the offensive end. Mentally he was not there he did not Look focus and he was not sharp. He was 5-15 from the field for 11 points and was a dismal 1-8 from three. Without knowing the extent of Durant’s injury the Warriors needed Curry to shake out of his series shooting slump, and summon the swagger that made him a back to back MVP.
Curry was able to do just that as he scored 16 points on nine shots in Durant’s absence with several coming in classic Steph fashion. On one play, in particular, Clint Capela was switched off on him, and he was able to shake him and side step him creating enough space to knock a deep three-pointer.
One thing that was painfully obvious during this series is that Curry is struggling while Durant is thriving. According to the Ringers’, Kevin O’Connor Curry with KD was 25 points on 17.5 shots per 75 possessions. Without KD, Curry was 30.7 points on 24 shots per 75 possessions these number date back to the 2016-2017 playoffs. According to these numbers Curry’s production increases greatly when KD is off the floor which allows Curry to be his old self. The question now becomes are the Warriors better without Durant? Of course not you are never better without the best player in the NBA not playing, but if there is a silver lining to Durant getting injured is that Curry for a quarter was back to himself.
Now we must patiently wait for the full diagnosis of Durant’s injury as he will be re-evaluated, after having an MRI. The good news he was initially diagnosed with a strained right calf. So he might be able to return for the rest of the series. The Warriors may have to finish this grueling series without Durant, which will be the biggest challenge during their rein. If they are going to defeat the Rockets and move on to the western conference finals they are going to need Curry at the peak of his powers. And at least for a quarter, it seemed like we got just that.