When it comes to hoarding star players, the Golden State Warriors have been accused of being more insulated than a Minnesota attic in the dead of winter.
But the defending champs are progressively in need of some “home improvement” on that front. The current postseason has now seen two of their luminaries succumb to significant injury.
The first victim was DeMarcus Cousins, who suffered a torn quadriceps in Game 2 of the quarterfinal round series against the Clippers.
Then, yet another hard-fought battle against the Houston Rockets in Game 5 on Wednesday led to a second casualty – perennial All-Star Kevin Durant. The sharpshooting wing exited the contest with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter after appearing to land awkwardly following a made jumper.
Kevin Durant goes to the locker room after suffering an apparent non-contact injury on lower leg pic.twitter.com/JCLv3szwz8
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 9, 2019
He was eventually diagnosed with a strained right calf and has already been ruled out for Game 6. With Golden State saying Durant will be re-evaluated “next week”, it implies he’d miss a possible Game 7 on Sunday as well.
Post-announcement domino effect a notable one
Durant’s guaranteed Game 6 absence has significantly boosted the chances of the series maxing out, according to oddsmakers.
While Steph Curry and company are still favored to get past the Rockets now that they need just one more win to clinch the best-of-seven set, they saw those odds drop after winning last night’s game. The Warriors were -260 favorites to advance to the conference finals on FD pre-Durant injury. That shifted to -194 after the unfortunate development.
Following Thursday’s announcement, Golden State now sports a highly unfamiliar “+” next to its Finals futures listings across New Jersey sportsbooks. For the first time all season, the Warriors are now plus money to three-peat as champs. They opened the season at -200.
For perspective, Golden State was listed at -125 to win it all prior to Wednesday’s game at FanDuel Sportsbook. Post-Durant injury? The Dubs now sport +115 odds.
The ripple effect extended throughout Garden State operators with respect to the Warriors’ NBA Finals futures:
Durant’s importance reflected by odds movement
The impact of the news is unsurprising, for several reasons. Sure, Durant naturally and rightfully considered an elite player. But, he’s arguably become the Warriors’ most indispensable piece on a roster with no shortage of talent.
That’s particularly been borne out this postseason:
- Curry sports his lowest shooting percentage (44.4) of the last three playoff runs, including a career-postseason-low 37.1 percent success rate from three-point range. Moreover, he’s shooting just 39.3 percent in the first five games against the Rockets, including 26.2 percent from three-point range.
- Klay Thompson stepped up with a postseason-best and team-high 27 points Wednesday. However, he’s been notoriously streaky throughout the first pair of playoff series. Thompson has scored 17 points or fewer in seven of 11 postseason games. That even includes one single-digit tally.
Then, Durant had been a bedrock of consistency thus far. That much was evidenced by his seven games with at least 50.0 percent shooting, his 41.2 percent success rate from distance in the current series and his team-high 34.2 points playoff average.
And notably, during the four games Durant missed in the regular season, the Warriors averaged a modest 106.0 points per contest, a precipitous drop from their NBA-high 118.1 for the campaign.