Warriors

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.

How Warriors fans can watch game this season with Larry O'Brien Trophy

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USATSI

How Warriors fans can watch game this season with Larry O'Brien Trophy

Once the NBA season starts, every player is out for the same thing -- a chance to raise the Larry O'Brien Trophy at the end of the year.

During the 2017-18 season, Warriors fans can watch a game at Oracle Arena with the prize possession right by their side. All you need is $2,000. 

If you can write the check, the trophy will pay you a visit in a premium suite, plus two bottle of champagne and a gift bag that includes a six-inch replica trophy and a replica championship ring. 

Fans are limited to four experiences with the trophy per game. 

Darren Rovell of ESPN was first to share the details. 

Damian Lillard: 'I'm not joining nobody' like Kevin Durant did, unless...

Damian Lillard: 'I'm not joining nobody' like Kevin Durant did, unless...

Kevin Durant. LeBron James. Chris Paul. Paul George. LaMarcus Aldridge. Kyrie Irving. Gordon Hayward.

Those just some of the superstars to change teams in the last few years in pursuit of a championship.

But don't expect Damian Lillard to add his name to that list.

While speaking on the latest episode of Complex's Everyday Struggle, the Blazers point guard was asked about the possibility of joining up with other stars to try to win a title.

"I mean, like I said about [former Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge], I wouldn't have done it. For me, I'm not joining nobody," Lillard said.

When it was brought up that he'd join LeBron if given the chance, Lillard responded by saying this: "I'm not joining nobody. I would not win a championship before I go and team up and do all that. Unless it was something I couldn't control."

A hypothetical scenario was posed to Lillard: Let's say you're 34 years old (Lillard is currently 27 years old) and you had the chance to join two of your superstar friends on another team. You still wouldn't do it?

"I’m saying this because this is how I feel, not how I feel at the moment. That’s just how I feel about it. I think if that’s what somebody wants to do, I’m not mad at them for doing it. I’m just telling you what I’m not going to do. That ain’t how we get down," Lillard responded.

To wrap up the topic, Lillard was asked if he holds it against any player that does decide to team up with other superstars.

"Nah, if it make them feel good, if they comfortable doing it, then do you," Lillard said.