Kevin Durant Ankle Injury: Latest on Warriors Forward vs. Rockets

One year ago, the Golden State Warriors found themselves down 3-2 to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. Kevin Durant responded by scoring a combined 57 points in the final 2 contests to help punch a ticket to the NBA Finals (and soon after another title over the Cavaliers).

In a preview of this year’s potential conference final, the 11-year veteran will have to watch from the sidelines. The All-Star forward Kevin Durant has been ruled out against the Rockets Wednesday night after not participating in practice on Tuesday.

This was originally reported by Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss against the lowly Phoenix Suns, Durant was looking to pass the ball in the low post and collided with Suns guard Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton. Durant ended up coming down awkwardly on his right ankle and immediately went to the locker room for further treatment.

 

Durant was diagnosed with a right ankle contusion and left the court under his own power for the final 6 minutes of Golden State’s 115-111 defeat to last-place Phoenix.

Durant also twisted that same ankle earlier this month against the Philadelphia 76ers.

This will mark just the second game that Durant has missed this season. On Feb. 28 against the Orlando Magic, Durant sat out for a night of rest.

Prior to exiting the game against the Suns, Durant scored 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting in addition to dishing out three assists and recording a pair of steals. Throughout the 2018-19 season, Durant has averaged 27.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists while shooting 36.0 percent from beyond the arc.

The Rockets will be gunning for the regular-season sweep tonight. Durant produced a combined 75 points, including a team-high 29 in an overtime loss on Feb. 23. Even with the star forward compiling solid performances, Golden State hasn’t been able to get over the top.

How will the Warriors avoid the sweep tonight? It’s not looking good without one of their top scorers (and underrated defenders).

Warriors Outlook Tonight Vs. Rockets

The problem with Golden State versus Houston has been abject defense from the Warriors. They have ceded 120 points per game in the 3 meetings, which would translate to a last-place showing in the league if extrapolated out to a full season.

The Warriors need Durant’s length on defense if they want to operate at peak efficiency. Without him, there’s not much to slow the Rockets on the perimeter, which is not a good combination when facing James Harden.

Draymond Green is the best defender, and he can man up with a lot of people at the top of the key. He ranked fifth in the NBA through the All-Star break in defensive real plus-minus (at +3.76), which measures a player’s average impact on his team’s defense by points allowed per 100 possessions.

Durant ranked 157th, at +0.7 and is also tied for 26th in the league in blocked shots at 1.15 per game. He briefly led the league in blocks early in 2017-18, even generating some Defensive Player of the Year buzz.

Houston ranks No. 11 in the league in scoring offense at 113 points a game. If they were already scoring 120 a game against the Warriors with Durant, that total should skyrocket Wednesday night.

Steve Kerr will have to rely on his offense outgunning the Rockets in Houston. The first 3 contests produced 111 points per game, and switching Durant with Andre Iguodala is not necessarily the switch needed to improve there.

by – heavy.com

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