Why the Warriors should not rest Durant vs Blazers if he's fully healthy

Why the Warriors should not rest Durant vs Blazers if he's fully healthy

If he’s healthy, Kevin Durant has to play. If there are no physical restrictions or associated risks, he should be on the court for what remains of the Warriors’ first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

And, yes, this goes against the sentiment that has become trendy in recent days.

Do the Warriors, with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, need Durant to close out Portland? No. Not in the least. The absence of starting center Jusuf Nurkic, who possibly could miss the entire series, is an opening for a Warriors sweep.

Which is why it has become fashionable to suggest they should confine Durant to the sideline for Game 3 Saturday and even Game 4 on Monday. Why put him on the court for Game 3 if you won Game 4 by 29 points?

Here’s why: Durant wants to be out there. If his left calf strain is fully recovered, he should be out there.

Durant’s mentality, and he has conveyed this many times, is one of devotion to the game. Basketball is his greatest passion, and it’s also his identity. He has many interests beyond the game -- the game does not begin to define his humanity -- but the essence of Kevin Durant is most visible when he’s doing his thing on the court.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been around Durant long enough to fully comprehend this. He sees Durant’s work ethic, sees the attention he devotes to details and feels his love affair with the game.

“If he's ready to play, he's going to play,” Kerr said after a 110-81 victory in Game 2 at Oracle Arena. “But if there's any question, then we won't play him.”

If he’s ready is the smart play. Even if the Warriors go up to Portland and win Game 3 by 40 points without Durant, he should play in Game 4 if he is medically cleared.

You have to consider Durant’s status in the game. He is, by any reasonable and rational standard, one of the top five players on earth. Some have questioned his competitive instincts. Others have wondered if he possesses the mental toughness and profound ruthlessness often required to become a champion.

He wants to prove the doubters wrong. He wants this postseason, with this team, to be his reply to any and all questions.

So if he’s able, he should play. Has to play. You don’t take away a singer’s microphone because of yesterday’s headache, or because the show can be great regardless of his or her presence. It cheats principle. And it sends a wayward message.

It tells the Warriors that Durant is a luxury item, and that’s the last thing they want or need to hear.

It tells Durant the same thing, and also implies that his desires are irrelevant.

It would be foolish for the Warriors to go down this road, no matter what kind of chatter is taking place outside their walls.

Draymond uses expletives in text to Myers, calls Jordan Bell on FaceTime

Draymond uses expletives in text to Myers, calls Jordan Bell on FaceTime

At his introductory press conference on Friday afternoon, Jordan Bell said that he tries to emulate his game after Draymond Green.

He said that he can learn a lot from Draymond.

Then, Warriors GM Bob Myers directed his next words at the newest addition to the team:

[RELATED: Why are Warriors willing to pay for picks? Lacob: 'If you just do the math...']

"Draymond will be a fun challenge for you," Myers said as he laughed and grabbed Bell on the shoulder. "Draymond texted me after I was driving home (following the draft). And he said, 'What the expletive is your problem?' So you can fill in the blank. And then he said, 'I have to hear about this expletive on the internet, you didn't expletive tell me about it?'

"So I couldn't text and drive so I called him and said, 'OK. All right. Calm down.' He said, 'I need his number, I need to talk to him,' so I gave it to Draymond ... he's like our team mom in a way ... you're gonna love playing with him, because to be honest, with Draymond it's about respect ... that's the type of team we have but we feel like that's how you are, too."

So what exactly did Draymond to say the 2016-17 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year?

"So he FaceTime'd me ... and I was with my friends celebrating. I texted the number back and I was like, 'Who is this?' And then he didn't reply, so I called the number and I was like, 'Yo, who is this?'

"And then he was like, 'Yo. I FaceTime'd you. Hang up right now, FaceTime me back, don't call. So I was like, 'Yeah, you're right.' So I hung up and I FaceTime'd him and he didn't answer. And I was like, 'All right.' I was like I should wait a couple seconds, and I waited like five seconds and I called him back on FaceTime.

"He was like, 'Yo, enjoy this night. Celebrate it. It only happens once, but after this night, we have to get back to work. We trying to get rings over here, so be ready for it."

[RELATED: A behind-the-scenes look at Jordan Bell's NBA Draft party]

Other takeaways from the press conference:

- Andre Iguodala is one of Bell's favorite players of all-time
- Kevin Durant texted Bell on Friday to welcome him to the Warriors
- Steve Kerr called Bell after the draft and on Friday
- Steph Curry texted Myers after the Warriors paid the Bulls $3.5 million for the rights to Bell

And, finally:

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Most talked-about draft in perhaps ever delivered one extraordinary thing

Most talked-about draft in perhaps ever delivered one extraordinary thing

The NBA Draft was a resounding success for the chattering classes – that is, until it actually happened, at which point all the potential scenarios were reduced to reality, and as we are coming to learn, nobody much likes reality any more.

After all, what’s more fun – arguing about where Jimmy Butler was going to be traded, or the trade that sent him to Minnesota itself? Let me help you with that – it was the first one.

Before the act, anything is possible, and therefore anything can be suggested. Once the act is completed, though?

Scoreboard. End of discussion. Fun dies. Go home.

Try this is you don't think so:

Fact: Lonzo Ball wants to be a Laker. Hilarious supposition that drives conversation (and drinks) across the nation: What if he doesn’t get to be a Laker and his father pulls his own head off like a champagne cork? Result that ends all discussion: Lonzo Ball is a Laker.

And then it ratchets itself again. Hilarious re-supposition that re-energizes the argumentals: How good will Lonzo Ball be? Result that ends all discussion: How good he actually is. Tie-breaker: His dad pulling his own head off like a champagne cork.

This is how daily fantasy became popular – the creation of a different reality or realities that have nothing to do with the actual games played by the actual people. This is also how esports became a thing – creatures of the imagination fighting other creatures of the imagination over fictional glories.

Hell, it’s why the best day of the college basketball season is the day the 68-team NCAA tournament bracket is filled. The games ruin it by being the definitive word on the bracket.

It is, in short, the triumph of the process over the actual deed – interactive make-believe gone mad.

So it was Thursday night. The most talked-about draft in perhaps ever which delivered one extraordinary thing – the Butler trade to Minnesota rather than Boston or Cleveland. Everything else about the evening was noise signifying chalk. All the players everyone thought would go high went high, the ones in the middle were pretty much mid-level draftees, and the bottom twenty were . . . well, what bottom 20 picks usually are: G-Leaguers.

There weren’t any goofy foreigners, no stretches, no spite-filled Kristaps Porzingis trade by a fulminating Phil Jackson. Nobody did anything aggressively stupid or jaw-droppingly brilliant, which without all the pre-draft yelling and screaming would have made this a fairly bland evening.

The lesson, then, is this: In the new world of show-me-something-shiny-right-now, the shiny part of the NBA draft was the run-up. And we love the run-up, almost more than we love the games.

Or maybe we’re just better as a nation at the run-up. The NFL Draft is its own industry, right down to the large-men-running-in-their-underwear degrade-o-thon known as the combine. The NHL this year doubled down with an expansion draft the day before its amateur draft. The pregame show does a better number than the rest of the day, and since the new media truth is that the pregame show is all day, every day, we have hooked ourselves on conversations about what might be and flit about like a hummingbird on Ritalin to the next what-might-be thing.

This preference for the individually tailored virtual universe over the one we all actually live in is not something to be lamented or wept over. It just is, and it will remain that way until the games just wither and die and all there is talking about something that actually will never happen instead of a million things that might.

In that moment, the robots will win. Or more precisely, they’ll get to the round of sixteen, and we can all argue about whether they would be better off meeting the Cylons or the shape-shifters in the regional final.