Kevin Durant

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Warriors vs. Rockets, Game 5

Do the Splash Brothers get back to being the Splash Brothers?

May 09, 2019 - 9:58 am
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That was an absolutely insane Wednesday night in the NBA. Kyrie and the Celtics imploding. The Lakers going Lakers. And then the Rockets and Warriors getting nice as hell. And Kevin Durant suffering an injury that looked horrible initially, might not be horrible, but will definitely still send aftershocks.

Let’s start in Oakland. And honestly, let’s skip the first half completely. Because even though Klay Thompson was hot and Golden State jumped out to that monster lead, that game was never going to be a beat down. Not with these two teams. Never. It didn’t matter if Golden State was up 20 or up 50 that game was never going to be a blowout.   You had to know that. 

But wild nonetheless. Golden State was up 20. They were rolling. And then in the third quarter, Houston came back. Because you knew they would. A team that good and that tough was not going to get blown out. Suddenly, they were getting to every offensive rebound and every loose ball. And suddenly, the Warriors looked gassed. Maybe even on the verge of a complete and total meltdown and implosion. 

Because Houston just kept coming. And then with Golden State up 66-65 late in the third, this happened.

That is something you never want to see. I don’t care if you’re the biggest Rockets fan ever and absolutely hate everything about the Warriors. You never want to see a player, with nobody around them, grab their leg and look back. Everything about that pointed to torn Achilles.

I mean….It checked all the boxes: non-contact, innocuous moment, and worst of all, Durant looking back to see if someone had kicked him. 

And for the next 20 minutes or so, that was what it appeared to be. And everything was in the balance. I mean everything. Forget this game, forget this series, with Durant a free agent in a few weeks, the next half decade of the league hung in the balance as he limped off the court and down the tunnel. 

As Steph Curry said: “Anytime you see something like that, it’s scary. You could see the look on his face. He didn’t really understand what was happening in that moment, trying to figure it out.”

And at the other end of the court, the Rockets had to be thinking this was their chance.  Had to see the blood in the water. They had come all the way back from that 20 point deficit and now Golden State’s best player in these playoffs was done for the night. They had the Champs on the ropes, with a chance to steal the game and go back home and finish. No one had to tell the Rockets it was their time. They knew it. And know it was just a matter of wrapping on the Warriors throats and choking them out once and for all.  But that didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen, because the Warriors who were still on the floor knew it was THEIR moment. 

Steph Curry said: “During the timeout, we all looked at each other. There were a couple of smiles in terms of what that meant for us as a team, the guys that were going to need to step up in those moments. Again, next-man-up mentality. Draymond (Green) said that at some point during that timeout. It’s hard to remove yourself from thinking about your teammate and your brother as he’s back in the locker room getting checked out. But we were able to lock back in and just find a way to win the game.”

And they did. Curry went from a quiet night to score 12 in the fourth. Jonas Jerebko hit a corner three. And Draymond Green had the most Draymond Green sequence you will ever see, a CP charge, followed by a tech, and then he comes back and hits a 3. Peak Draymond Green. That is the full Draymond Green Experience. And it is awesome. Out-tough and out-craft one of the toughest and craftiest guys on the floor by drawing a charge. Give him a little extra. Get a T. Drain a three.

And then, with a little over a minute left, he fouled out. Which led to Shaun Livingston and Kevon Looney being in the game in the final minute, which led to a sequence that And led to Looney grabbing that loose ball, giving it back to Klay to ice it. If Game 4 was the PJ Tucker Game, Game 5 was the Kevon Looney Game. He was an absolute beast. I can’t believe he only had 9 rebounds, it felt like he had 19. How many offensive possessions did he keep alive with his work on the glass and his hustle?

And how would you describe a Warriors team that’s already banged up, already exhausted, losing a Hall of Famer like Kevin Durant and still finding a way to win? I’ll let Steve Kerr handle that. Because nobody will do it better.

Steve Bleeping Kerr. What an awesome moment. And he’s right. His guys were bleeping giants last night. Draymond. Curry. Klay. Iggy. Shaun. And Kevon. Bleeping giants.

And at the other end of the court and the other end of the spectrum, that has to leave a mark for Houston. If they don’t win this series, last night is going to haunt them all summer and for years to come. Because it was right there for them. They fought to get back into the game, but they couldn’t finish Durant gets injured, and they couldn’t close out the game. They could’ve ripped that game and gone back home to close out the series.

Instead, they’re going back home with questions. Like, what happened to James Harden in the fourth quarter?  Where the hell was the Beard? What the hell was he doing when they had a chance to drive a stake in the Warriors once and for all.

The stats have to be wrong, right? There’s no way that he only took one shot in the final eight minutes and thirty seconds of that game, right? Honestly, and I can’t believe I’d ever say this about James Harden, but there were stretches where I completely forgot he was on the floor. In the fourth quarter. Of Game 5. A game where the Warriors lost KD; a game that was right there for the Rockets to rip. A game where they could have snatched the Warrior’s soul and taken control of the series. And perhaps the league. 

Again, if they lose this series, that game and that final loose ball is going to haunt them for a long, long time.

But this series isn’t over. In fact, it’s impossible to know what it is right now. Because no matter what Kevin Durant’s MRI today reveals, he’s not playing tomorrow night. Steve Kerr already told The Athletic that. Which means Golden State is going on the road without the guy who has been their best player in these playoffs. So they’re dead, right? Houston wins Game 6 and then goes back to beat Golden State in Game 7 and close down Oracle.

Ehhh, not necessarily.

Golden State still has Steph Curry. They still have Klay Thompson. And without Durant, they won’t go to the isolations that are a double-edged sword – they can get easy buckets for Golden State, but they also take Golden State out of their rhythm.

Do the Splash Brothers get back to being the Splash Brothers? Is Kevin Durant really holding them back, as some Warriors fans seem to believe?

Or if Durant is out for the rest of this series, is the rest of the postseason, now wide ass open??  Especially given their lack of depth; they were already thin as hell even before KD went down. 

I’d love to definitely tell you what’s going to happen. But I won’t. Because I can’t. NO ONE can. 

There is no bottom line here. Other than if Houston doesn’t come back, they’ll live down the fact that they didn’t finish Golden State last night when they had the chance. For now. The only thing you can say for certain is that Game 6 is tomorrow night in Houston. And KD’S not going. Let’s do this.