Warriors need to protect starters after Durant injury
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Kevin Durant’s injury is a reminder of the ultimate goal for this season: to remain healthy until the Finals.
The upcoming stretch of games will be the toughest part of the Warriors season. This is why playing their star players extended minutes during this stretch of the season is the wrong decision with the playoffs a month away.
A superstar like Durant cannot simply be replaced. Entering the finals healthy should be the team’s highest priority.
Just the month of March, the Warriors will play 15 games and spend the majority of their time on the road. That’s 16,000 miles on a bus or a plane rather than their own beds where they are most comfortable and can easily rest.
During this month, they will play four sets of back to back games and will have a short home stand of three games. During this stretch, they have key match ups against the Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder who are threatening to take the first seed in the West.
The Warriors have already clinched a playoff spot and they don’t really need home court advantage to win the West. Maintaining the home court advantage for the playoffs would be ideal because of the emotional high the Warriors play with at home.
But the team has been one of the best on the road this season with a 24-7 record.
The regular season is meaningless at this point. The team is deep enough to go to the bench and spread the minutes out in order to give our starters rest. Durant’s injury being a grade 2 MCL sprain and a bone bruise was better news than what many expected.
They remain the favorites in the west to reach the finals after Durant’s injury. But another key injury will drastically steepen the hill the Warriors need to climb. Losing Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson to injury for any extent of time will dampen the team’s offense.
Ultimately its Steve Kerr’s decision and he cannot leave it up to the players because every starter wants to play right now. It’s true that the players know their body more than anyone, but we have seen how this plays out.
Last season, the Warriors chased 73 wins to set the record for most wins in a season, which really taxed the player’s energy level coming into the finals.
The Spurs are the only real threat for the Warriors to make the Finals. The Spurs are a fundamentally sound team but do not have many skilled players. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge are the only true offensive threats on the team and the Warriors have ball stoppers at those positions.
We have all anticipated a Warriors vs. Cavaliers Finals match up before the season started, and it’s still likely to happen. But another injury now will drag on deep into the playoffs where players are less than 100 percent.