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Warriors star Kevin Durant won’t return in time for Game 1 of NBA Finals

/ 03:45 PM May 24, 2019
Kevin Durant. Ken Mauer

FILE – In this Wednesday, May 8, 2019, file photo, Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, left, walks away from referee Ken Mauer during the first half of Game 5 of the team’s second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets in Oakland, Calif. Durant is yet to progress to on-court work in his recovery from a strained right calf and won’t be ready to return for Golden State in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on May 30. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

OAKLAND, California — Kevin Durant won’t be ready to play in time for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on May 30.

The two-time reigning finals MVP has yet to return to on-court work while recovering from a strained right calf.

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Big man DeMarcus Cousins might be healthy for Golden State’s series opener against either Milwaukee or Toronto.

“Potentially,” coach Steve Kerr said Thursday, “but it’s up in the air.”

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The team re-evaluated both players Thursday and they are expected to be ready at some point during Golden State’s fifth straight finals.

Durant is making progress in the training room and with moves he is able to handle in the weight room, Kerr said.

“We’ve known all along, it’s how he responds. There’s never been a point during this process where we’ve been able to say, ‘he’s going to play on such and such date,’ and there still isn’t, so we just keep going, keep moving forward,” Kerr said. “… But again, he hasn’t spent any time on the court with us, hasn’t gone through an individual shooting workout.”

Cousins is working back from a torn left quadriceps muscle sustained in Game 2 of the first round against the Clippers. He practiced Thursday for the first time since getting injured April 16 in just his second career playoff game.

“We’ll see where my body takes me and we’ll see what happens,” Cousins said. “I feel good, a lot better than I was, I’m in a better place. I’m able to get up and down the court more. I’m able to play a little competition basketball.”

Andre Iguodala, who missed the Game 4 clincher against the Blazers with a sore left calf, didn’t practice Thursday but is expected to be at full strength to start the finals.

Golden State took two days off after completing a sweep of the Trail Blazers on Monday night in Portland. The Warriors will again take a day off Sunday and won’t begin full game-planning until they have an opponent.

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Durant was averaging 34.2 points this postseason when he got injured during the third quarter of Game 5 in the conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. He landed awkwardly on his right foot following a baseline jumper.

Kerr wouldn’t commit to a role for Cousins when he returns, unlike when the center returned from a nearly yearlong absence Jan. 18 following surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon and started immediately.

It will depend on Cousins’ health, “how he’s moving,” Kerr said, how the series is going and matchups.

For Cousins, just getting back on the court before the offseason and free agency would be a huge boost emotionally.

Raising a championship banner would also mean so much after such a difficult year of rehab. The Achilles injury and recovery was “one of my darkest moments,” he said.

“It’s been a wild year for me all season,” Cousins said. “I’m happy to be in this moment. If I get the opportunity to play I’m going to take full advantage of it, leave it all on the floor.”

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