Golden State Warriors star forward Kevin Durant, who has been out with a left knee injury since the beginning of March, is set to make his long-awaited return on Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr announced that Durant will indeed be in the starting lineup for the game.
This news also comes at the perfect time, seeing as star point guard Stephen Curry has officially been ruled out for the game with a left knee contusion. The injury occurred in Wednesday’s 120-111 win over the Phoenix Suns when Curry was hit early in the game by Suns center Alex Len during a drive to the basket. Curry was down for a few minutes in pain before getting up and walking to the free throw line; however, he was clearly still in pain as he fell to the floor several more times during course of the game, including getting hit by Devin Booker on a layup attempt only minutes later.
Steph Curry just took a big fall after getting leveled by Alex Len on a drive. Grimacing, but staying in.
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 6, 2017
After an initial incredibly bumpy stretch after losing their leading scorer in Durant that saw the Warriors losing five of their next seven games, they have now turned things around and seemingly re-learned how to play the traditional style of Warriors basketball that fans have grown accustomed to seeing. The Warriors are currently sitting on a 13-game win streak. Klay Thompson has been firing on all cylinders, and any doubts regarding Curry not being in “MVP form” have seemingly disappeared with his dominant play.
Other players that have flourished in this stretch without Durant are Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. Livingston is an incredibly versatile player who does a lot for the team as the backup point guard. Likewise, Iguodala has appeared to return to his Finals MVP form of two years ago, and he is currently averaging 28.7 minutes per game while shooting 60 percent overall, including 40 percent from 3-point range, compared to 25.7 minutes per game and 49 percent overall from the field (35 percent from 3-point range) with a healthy Durant.
Stephen Curry with the filthy assist to Andre Iguodala! 🔥
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) April 5, 2017
It will be interesting in particular to see how Iguodala’s performance is impacted by Durant’s return to the lineup. However, with Curry’s injury still putting a damper on things for the moment, he could be expected to still play a very large role in the Warriors’ lineup.
Not having Kevin Durant has proven to be a great test for this Warriors team, and will seemingly only make them even better once Curry is back and the team is healthy and complete. If the Warriors continue playing this brand of basketball to finish out the regular season and throughout the playoffs, they could certainly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are likely the most dangerous team in the NBA.