The Warriors’ have hit the injury bug, and maybe it doesn’t even matter.
The Golden State Warriors have been whacked with a plague of injuries no team in the NBA Finals has any business overcoming. But the dynasty made its most miraculous stand yet, erasing the Toronto Raptors’ homecourt advantage with a 109-104 win on the road to tie the series at one.
Before the season began, a swarm of injuries looked like the only way anyone could knock off the five-All Star, back-to-back championship-winning Warriors. Maybe that’s not even enough. Game 2 of the Finals proved even with two key players working through injuries, one sitting out entirely, two more leaving the game early, and a sixth battling dehydration from the opening tip, the Warriors are never out.
Heading into Sunday night’s game, Golden State knew it’d be without one of its stars, Kevin Durant, who suffered a calf strain in Game 4 of the conference semifinals. They knew DeMarcus Cousins, who left in the second game of the entire playoffs with a torn quad, wouldn’t be his full self in just his second game back. Same goes for Andre Iguodala, who re-injured his hamstring in Game 1 of the Finals. That alone would make a road game against Kawhi Leonard’s Raptors difficult.
What they didn’t know is that Kevon Looney would sprain his collarbone in the first quarter and not return, Klay Thompson would injure his hamstring in the beginning of the fourth quarter and not return, and Stephen Curry would battle through an unidentified illness all game.
How many curveballs can this dynasty withstand? At least six, apparently.
Curry, through frequent check-ins with the team’s doctor, came and went in spurts, but finished with 23 points on 17 shots. Cousins, despite a slow start in his second game in more than a month, had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Thompson was great until he left with the injury, scoring 25,. Draymond Green nearly got a second straight triple-double, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. In the fourth quarter, it was Quinn Cook who stepped up with nine points in Thompson’s absence, including back-to-back triples in 28 seconds.
Steph Curry ran all the way down the sideline to celebrate with Quinn Cook. pic.twitter.com/NpTIuCu6Ep
— ESPN (@espn) June 3, 2019
The Warriors playing out their doomsday scenario to victory made them feel as inevitable as ever. Each Cook-made three — let alone each Andrew Bogut lob dunk — was an insult to a really well-constructed Toronto roster, and every crafty Cousins pass on a gimpy leg was exhausting.
There was little controversy when Golden State put its remaining money into a then-injured Cousins instead of flushing out its bench because a situation as damning as this one wasn’t conscionable. Management put its faith into the team remaining healthy enough, knowing even if not, starpower would prevail. Turns out even the Warriors worst nightmares can be conquered.
Still, the series is a best 3-out-of-5 now. The status of the Warriors’ fresh injuries are unknown, as well as the return of Durant. Thompson says he “doesn’t see himself missing Game 3,” per Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. But, as Steve Kerr said, “Klay said he’ll be fine. But Klay can be half dead and he’ll say he’s fine.” His absence on top of a still-delayed Durant return would leave very few shot-creators left on the floor for Golden State in Game 3, where homecourt can be lost all over again.
The Warriors nearly choked their lead away late in Game 2 without those two, going scoreless for five minute and 32 seconds until Andre Iguodala’s dagger three with seven seconds to play. What does this team look like without them for an entire 48?
Until health statuses are confirmed, Warriors fans can only rejoice after a heckuva battle. The Warriors were never supposed to be tested like this.