Now what?

Published by Yoshi on 5th March - 19:50 (CET)
If you haven't been living under a rock for the past week, you've heard about Kevin Durant's knee injury which will keep him sidelined indefinitely with a re-evaluation scheduled in four weeks. The official diagnosis is a sprained MCL and a bone bruise on his left leg, suffered in the early minutes of the Warriors' game at the Wizards last Tuesday.

Should KD return in four weeks, he would manage to play another six regular season games, but the likely scenario is that he is sidelined for another week or so after his re-evaluation if everything is in order at that time. With the risk of him missing even the start of the Playoffs being there, let's take a look at how the end of the '16-'17 season could play out for the Golden State Warriors.

Scenario One

Should the Playoff picture remain as it is today with Golden State finishing first in the West, the Dubs would be playing the Denver Nuggets in the first round, and quite frankly this match-up should be a fairly easy story for the Warriors even without Durant. Currently sitting at 28-34, the Nuggets aren't intimidating anyone, despite Nikola Jokic's incredible February run (16.3 PPG, 10.9 RPB and 6.3APG in twelve games) which has continued to escalade in March (22/14/7 in two games). In the second round the Warriors would face either the Utah Jazz or the Los Angeles Clippers, and if KD is still not back at this time, there could be trouble looming. The Jazz are the league's best team that no-one cares about and you better believe that the Clippers are hungry after years of almosts. Clips' experience would trump the Jazz, and if they smell blood with Durant out of the picture, the second round could be as far as the Warriors come this year. If they prevail, however, and KD is not back for the Conference Finals, the All-Mighty Spurs will have a field-day with them and keep my pre-season prediction alive. Most likely, though, Durantula will be back by the second round and we will have our third straight year of Golden State versus Cleveland coming up in June if the Dubs remain on top of the West.

Now here comes the interesting part. Guess who the Warriors are playing twice in the coming four weeks. That's right, the Spurs.

Scenario Two

San Antonio is currently only two games behind the Dubs for first in the West, and don't think for a second that Popovich will be resting any of his stars now that home-court advantage is within his reach. If the Warriors fall to second and the rest of the Playoff picture remains as is we get the match-up everyone wants to see in the first round; Golden State vs Oklahoma City. I don't know about you, but somewhere deep down inside I'm thinking that maybe this was exactly what the basketball gods had in mind when they struck KD down in that Wizards game. If you think Russell Westbrook is playing out of his mind now, just imagine him in a win-or-go-home situation against his former teammate and the Golden State Villains. 50-20-20? Who knows, but despite the individual thunder that Russ will bring, the Warriors would be triumphant in this matchup with or without Kevin as the collective Thunder is just too weak. The second round would have the Warriors facing the Grizzlies or the Rockets, and here Durant's availability will be the decisive factor. Both the Grizzlies and the Rockets have not one but about a hundred chips on their shoulders at this point and any weakness on the Warriors' side will be exploited fully. Barring any setbacks, however, Durant should be in full speed at this point and the Warriors will warrior their way to the Conference Finals from the bottom to meet up with Popovich's crew and their home-court advantage. The jury is out on this one as Golden State is clearly the better team, but Pop is Pop, and that extra game at home might prove to be pivotal. One thing is for sure, this would be one helluva series!

While injuries are never something to be happy about, the timing of this specific one is not all that terrible from a fan's point of view. If we actually get scenario two with our GSWvsOKC first round match-up and a WCF where the Spurs have home-court against the Warriors, these Playoffs could be ridiculously entertaining. And who wouldn't want that in a year where we so far basically have just been waiting to see if it is the Cavaliers or the Warriors who get to hoist the trophy in June?

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