The landscape of the NBA postseason nearly changed in a big way Tuesday night when Golden State superstar Kevin Durant left the Warriors’ game in Washington with a serious-looking knee injury. However, MRI results on Wednesday revealed relatively good news.
Kevin Durant left Tuesday’s loss at the Wizards after just a few minutes when teammate Zaza Pachulia landed on his knee. It didn’t look good at the time as Durant was limping pretty heavily. An early report Wednesday morning by plugged-in NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was: “Those in Kevin Durant's inner-circle are reportedly bracing for tough news regarding KD's hyperextended left knee, with fear that he'll be out for months, and not weeks.”
Thus it was good news when the MRI results revealed Durant had a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise. The Warriors are calling him "out of action indefinitely.” KD will re-evaluated in four weeks. There are about six weeks left in the regular season. So it’s possible Durant plays before the end of that, and it appears as if he should be ready for the playoffs. Durant leads the Warriors in scoring (25.3 ppg), rebounding (8.2 rpg) and blocks (1.6 bpg).
NBA futures odds at various sportsbooks were all taken off the board early on Wednesday while the world awaited the Durant news. This didn't affect anything – Golden State remains the -150 NBA title favorite on 5Dimes NBA odds.
The Warriors have a comfortable lead for the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. San Antonio is four games back in the West, and I’m not sure Golden State will even lose four more times. They still have All-Stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Also, it’s not like the Spurs are going run the table the rest of the way. Those teams still play twice, both in San Antonio: March 11 and March 29. The Spurs are +425 to win the West on NBA picks. The Warriors’ magic number is 20 for the top seed with 22 games to play for Golden State and 24 to play for the Spurs.
What this injury surely will do is prevent Golden State from becoming the first team in league history with back-to-back 70-win seasons (it was a long shot even with Durant). At 50-10, the Warriors would have to finish 20-2 to do that. The Warriors continue a five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference on Thursday night at Chicago. Look for a preview of that game here at SBR Forum.